Live Review
IDIOT GLEE AT THE VORTEX, LONDON
Idiot Glee
The Vortex Club
Dalston, London
12/05/11

Idiot Glee (22 year-old Kentuckian James Friley) makes ’50s-sounding vocal pop on synths and samplers, but it’s best when these elements just happen to meet and get on with each other. It’s like they were squeezed together by hateful, overbearing parents when the beat becomes too intrusive.

Tonight is, from the start, a slow-burner, sounding at times like an old-time radio jingle looped sadly forever and played to a seated crowd which, judging from the suffocating atmosphere of boredom and smug, must have read Glee described as ‘piano-pop-wave’ in the Guardian. Once alight, he meanders into a great, dubbed-out cover of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and an even better one of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Last Call’; audacious and strange choices even given the current appetite for sepia-toned retro pop vibes (we’re doffing large felt hats in the direction of Smith Westerns).

That he manages to pull off these down-tempo pop classics is a testament to his singing ability and the fact that he’s doing this with zero percent irony. That’s bad news if you like your geek to stay cosy with chic, but seeing past the fact that this is staunchly unsexy music, there are some spooked, progg-y moments to glaze-over too.

By Edgar Smith

Originally published in issue 28 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2011