Review: modernlove at The Joiners

modernlove. is a band on the way up. Fast.

Fresh off the back of a sell-out US tour spanning L.A. to Philadelphia, the Irish four-piece have just toured their lively indie pop sound around the UK too, including an Easter weekend date at The Joiners in Southampton. At first listen ahead of the gig, their clean and cool alt-pop vibe brought to mind classics from the 1975 and Sea Girls, so when I was offered the chance to catch the band there I didn’t hesitate. Discovering a new band certainly sounds like a Good Friday to me.

Childhood friends from the small rural town of Drogheda, modernlove. are Barry, Graham, Danny and Cian. You might’ve heard one of their many soundtrack slots on E4’s Made in Chelsea or come across a tune on one of Spotify’s new indie playlists. After spending lockdown polishing their sound and rescheduling gigs, they’re finally getting to show off what they can do live, and there was definitely a sense of excitement amongst the already devoted fans in the crowd as the boys took to the stage.

They kicked things off with until my heart stops beating, the first track from their recently-released third EP, Nightlife. It’s a great introduction to modernlove. – glittery indie electro with dreamy vocals and lyrics that convey all the heartache and hedonism of relationships in your twenties. From the off, lead vocalist and guitarist Barry commanded attention with an understated showmanship and there was the kind of natural ease amongst the band that comes from growing up together.

They also know how to deliver a great sing-along chorus, like next song Don’t Wanna – with its unforgettable line “don’t wanna be your friend, wanna sink my teeth into your neck instead”.  After Oh My Mind, a softer, wistful slice of 80s-inspired synth, they got us dancing again with boppier tunes in the form of Ruin Your Night and Us.

It was clear more than a few fans had turned out for the show, and a shouted request for 2 Missed Calls from the back saw Barry quip that normally they had to win people over. Looking around throughout the gig, I noticed that a good portion of the crowd were singing along with every word, so it seems modernlove. already have a growing south coast following.

Slowing the pace gradually with Familiar then the deliberately schmaltzy come over x (yep, I clocked the text message style title), the boys then gave us Take Me Far Away, its modern Don Henley vibes bringing to mind sunsets and coastal highways. Between songs, the boys explained they’d only had two nights at home after their stateside tour before starting their UK shows, adding wryly they were ‘wrecked, but it was worth it’.

Not that we’d ever have known; the energy never dipped and it was straight on to crowd pleasers Only Ever Only You and love triangle-inspired 2 Missed Calls. The latter is also my fave, (along with the anonymous song requester), not least thanks to the line “She left me two missed calls in the middle of the night, if he ever finds out it’s the end of my life”.

Next was one of the more experimental modernlove. tracks, Take My Head, with its throbbing drum and bass feel, distorted beats and processed vocals. It felt like a moment when the band could really let loose on stage, showing they’ve got the range to attract a broad spectrum of fans. After Islands and the sparkly Liquorice (another one requested by the voice from the back), the boys wrapped the show on a high with the high-octane Follow You, complete with soaring chorus and pounding drums. I’m pretty sure they finished the night with more than a few new fans too.

If you like your indie fresh, evocative and ludicrously catchy, prepare to fall into modernlove.


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