Friday, 23 May 2008

Recollections From The Crash: Elle Milano at The Fly

Following Jehan's monumental MSN conversation with Adam Crisp, I met up with Elle Milano before the final gig of their UK tour at The Fly (30th April):

From assaults on the music industry ‘Curiousity Killed The Popstar’ and ‘Believe Your Own Hype, Always’ I expected anti-publicity, spiked-tongued Yanis-alikes, but none of Elle Milano pull perverse, pretentious stances. Adam Crisp (frontman) is charming and thankful I’m not another clueless blonde undergraduate who wants to get ahead in journalism (which is exactly what I am, but I didn’t blow my cover).

Whereas someone like Yannis tries to maintain a cult reputation when his band are less David Lynch than Judd Apatow, Elle Milano’s poptastic moments are meshed with a malevolent undertow; their debut album ('Acres of Dead Space Cadets, see Jehan's review) is a melting pot of time-signature play, blistering drums, electronic whirrs, raw power guitar, blasts of orchestra, heartbroken yelps and powerpop choruses. Depth careering through the walls doesn’t help you in an age of drab recycled indie, though. “They don’t know how to pigeonhole us” says Adam, not proud but lamenting. Things might have been different if they’d accepted a support slot for Test Icicles, but they chose to finish music production degrees and hook up with infant label Brighton Electric, sadly still recovering from their chief financial backer dying in a plane crash. The band are dreading getting jobs after the tour; Adam is also a dab hand at hip hop production, and I guess we’d all rather do that than groom ourselves into a band like The Courteeners. Indifference is his worst fear: "I think NME gave 'Acres of Dead Space Cadets' 6 out of 10", he says, crumpling his face. We move on to recite snatches of the 'NME is so shit now' chorus, and end up discussing that mag's chief suer, Morrissey. "I've got into The Smiths recently", Adam enthuses, impressed by, on songs like 'Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others', "that way of crafting a two-minute blast of pop song that's gone before you know it. That's what we tried to do with 'I Know It's Good But I'm Playing It Down' (anti-anthemic highpoint of Elle Milano's debut)".

Elle Milano's headlining set at The Fly that night showcases their own intricate, triumphant brand of emo: scathing yet sentimental as opposed to quiet then loud but all the while pointless. The crowd is a bizarre mix of benignly interested regulars and a small clutch of dedicated groovers including one fey fan whose invented actions to the lyrics are burned on my retinas and his fag hag, whose shapes put half my pint on the floor. Elle Milano deserve better than this. Pay attention or the band themselves may be gone before you know it.