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LIVE REPORT: Audiobooks at The Social
Anna Wood , April 3rd, 2018 08:02

Audiobooks - London duo Evangeline Ling and David Wrench - played their third-ever gig last week at The Social. It was ace

Watching Audiobooks live is wonderful.

Evangeline Ling is, as has been mentioned before on tQ, a startling combination of Mark E Smith and Björk. I mean, fucking hell. She might also put you in mind of Joanna Newsom, Jason from Sleaford Mods, John Grant and - perhaps most of all - Alice in Wonderland if she’d been raised by wolves.

Her voice is beautiful, clear, strong, unaffected in that Björk/John-Grant/brave-toddler way, but a moment later she’s growling like Regan from The Exorcist, then telling drole-posh stories like Serafina Steer from Bas Jan, she is mercurial. Like Mark E Smith, she offers glimpses of other worlds, grubby places behind closed doors, snatches of sinister conversations often in an unfamiliar language.

David Wrench is a wizard, not just in the sense that he clearly has decades of synth alchemy pulsing through his veins, but in the sense that he looks like a wizard. A benevolent, beautiful, disco-fingered wizard. He stands behind two tabletops of synths, occasionally leaning forward to do some vocals. Ling, meanwhile, never keeps still. She climbs agile and guileless as a goat across the seats to get to the stage, swings and lopes like Ross Kemp, does a bit of Scottish country dancing. She twitches and rubs her face, she grabs her crotch, goes up en pointe with first-position ballet arms.

And the songs are mind-boggling. How does ‘Pebbles’ contain so much cosmic power and petty human tenderness? “I don’t give up on you / I would never give up the chase,” she sings, in Vulnicura-style panic-sadness-rage as a cold disco universe shudders behind her. The packed room is agog.

The songs are mind-boggling. And sexy.

The songs are mind-boggling. And filthy, and full of mischief.

The songs are mind-boggling. And they make you want to dance.

Not forgetting that they’re also funny. It’s funny in lots of ways - Ling doing a Joyce Grenfell voice to tell stories of pebbly beaches that ought really to be sandy, her taking the piss out of posh-boho girls with hairy armpits, Wrench’s fragment of Human League in ‘Friends In A Bubble Bath’, and how Ling manages to get away with singing “Give me your car keys, they make me feel brrrrm brrrrm!” But most of the laughter in the packed Social basement tonight is that short, sharp laughter of shocked delight when something is wonderful in an entirely new perfect-pop way.

Because Audiobooks combine lots of familiar ingredients (not least posh art-school troublemaker and keyboard maestro) to make an entirely new and abundant joy.

I’m a paid-up* member of Class War, but I am fully on board with this band, even though the singer is so posh that her mate Lulu Guinness (of the £400 handbags and aristo family) is standing at the side of the stage waving to her. I am happy to guarantee that a band who make music as sordid and beautiful and weird and honest and wonderful as this will be on the right side come the revolution.

Audiobooks' first EP is out on Heavenly later this month

*metaphorically speaking. You don’t pay to join Class War, that would be nonsense