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art-rock champs keeping indie out of the swamp

May 30th, 2024

“This is the fuckin’ biggest show of our lives,” says English Teacher frontwoman Lily Fontaine to a capacity crowd at London’s Electric Brixton. “This is rock’n’roll,” she continues, with the spirit starting to take over. “That rock’n’roll, eh?” now with an Alex Turner drawl, “it just won’t go away…”

The Leeds art-rock champs have every right to carry a little of that swagger of their Yorkshire indie peers tonight. The final night of their tour also happens to be the biggest headline show of their career to date, a victory lap for their universally acclaimed Top 10 album ‘This Could Be Texas’ – certainly one of the definitive debuts of the year, and perhaps one of the best of this decade so far. “There are quite a lot of you,” notes Fontaine, with the air ripe with a sense of occasion.

The show starts with the singer tottering on stage wearing one of the giant papier-mâché heads from the music video for ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’, accompanied by a fitting Lynchian soundtrack. Here’s a band that follow their own script. Their originality feeds their energy on all sides of the spectrum, from the jarring and rollicking ‘I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying’ to when Fontaine takes to the keys for the beautiful ‘Broken Biscuits’

‘Not Everybody Gets to Go to Space’ ironically takes Brixton beyond the O-zone layer, while the intricate meanderings of ‘Mastermind Specialism’ keep the crowd enthralled without a whiff of being self-indulgent. “This is a love song,” says Fontaine, introducing ‘You Blister My Paint’. “We don’t have many of those, so excuse me while I get emotional”. And she does. In fact, she sings the absolute fuck out of it. “It’s about to get lairy,” she offers before ‘The Best Tears Of Your Life’, seeing in a series of wild peaks, complete with a spot of crowdsurfing for ‘R&B’; the band’s eccentricities never getting in the way of a good time.

English Teacher, live at Electric Brixton. Credit: Alexis Panidis

We spot a nearby fan wiping the tears from their cheeks during a magnetic performance of the tender ‘Albert Road’, before Fontaine finds again that “dreams can come true” for a confetti rainstorm during the frenetic first set close of ‘Nearly Daffodils’. Returning for the encore of a wonkily gorgeous spin on LCD Soundsystem’s ‘New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’. It’s been a journey in just over an hour, leaving you desparate to know the band’s next destination.

“Where do you holiday?” shouts someone from the audience at one point. “I don’t holiday, mate,” Fontaine smiles back. “I work. I’m a bad bitch”. English Teacher have been more than vocal in the never-ending battle for artists hard-work to be valued and compensated. They’ve put the hours in, and tonight it pays off. They’ll clean up at festival season and if there’s any justice they’ll be at least nominated for the Mercury Prize. The year could very much belong to English Teacher – the band keeping UK indie very safely out of that swamp.

English Teacher, live at Electric Brixton. Credit: Alexis Panidis
English Teacher, live at Electric Brixton. Credit: Alexis Panidis

English Teacher played:

‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’
‘I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying’
‘Broken Biscuits’
‘Not Everybody Gets to Go to Space’
‘Mastermind Specialism’
‘You Blister My Paint’
‘This Could Be Texas’
‘The Best Tears of Your Life’
‘Nearly Daffodils’
‘Albert Road’
‘New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down’

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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