John & Jen/Driver Drive Faster Live at The Deaf Institute. Manchester 18/11/2010

Review by Zandra Klievens

Driver Drive Faster: 

Previously known as Polytechnics back in 2008 they reformed in the Spring of 2009 to become Driver Drive Faster. They have, to date, supported Marble Giants which they must have enjoyed as they do resemble the sound of Pavement and by no means a bad thing.

They have a warm and full sound; and the vocals of Dylan Giles are effortless and lovely, like it has been lacquered in honey. Peet Earnshaws keyboard sounds give the band their distinct drive and his voice is as agile as Dylan’s, who seems to be able to change his deliverance in swoops. The bass playing of Yuri Caul is elegant and graceful, and the drumming of David Schlechtriemen is impressive; sticks, brushes and mallets were all used making for distinct changes in the songs. They like detail. ‘They May Talk’, is impressive as was ‘It’s all Over’.

I do hope that they get more attention as I’ve now seen this band play twice and they always get better and have songs that have depth and quality.

John and Jehn: 

John and Jehn have two albums for their history, their first self titled and the second ‘Time for the Devil’, they have their own radio show and John likes to make screen prints. Jehn also appeared as an actress in a film too. By the by the two are very pretty and photogenic.

J and J are joined on stage by Gemma Thompson on guitar and Raph Mura on the drums. They all have strong appearances, Jehn adorning a preppy bowl cut, John very gaunt and almost sickly but managing to make it look good, Thompson almost androgynous and Mura looks like the child of the band in his sailor boy top.    

The sound starts off a little restrained with John’s bass almost muffled and his vocals only just managing to come through over the rest of the band, but it works. With any vocalist, it’s always good to have a distinctive voice and he has one thanks to his French influence, his pronunciation adds to the songs and his dark wavering tones give it a sultry edge.

There is a sparseness to their songs and a reliance on overall sound which they seem to have moulded well. The picked guitar notes of Thompson are simple, the vocals of Jehn are swept and fragile, an almost translucent nature to them, and although the two vocals are very different they merge to create a combination of grain and glass. The whole sound is made up of contradictions. It’s pop but then it isn’t as it’s too dark. Its French sounding but the bass in Time for the Devil sounds as if it has been picked from a Kinks track.

There is a lot of changing of instruments between the band. For ‘Time for the Devil’ Jehn changes to bass while Thompson controls the keys. It’s a very vivid set and full of movement. I can’t help but notice that the drummer looks like he’s dancing whilst playing; this amuses me throughout the set.

On their last song, ‘Ghosts’, they appear to be having a lot of fun. The dynamics and the lyrics allow them to exaggerate the nature of the song. Jehn dances around and it’s the first time that there’s any real prominent contact between John and Jehn. It comes to a point that John does a little jaunty stroll up to her which coincidently makes her laugh whilst singing, adding reality and a sweet nature to their set.

They have the ability to not take themselves too seriously whilst at the same time creating an aura of coolness; again, another contradiction but I can’t work them out. They seem lovely; when I asked for a set list they bustle about for me only to tell me that they don’t have one. They do however give me a free sticker (what ever happened to free pin badges).

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