Gig review: Pale Blue Eyes at The Crescent, York

Pale Waves at The Crescent, York. Picture: David MartinPale Waves at The Crescent, York. Picture: David Martin
Pale Waves at The Crescent, York. Picture: David Martin
The Sheffield-based indie group provide the perfect soundtrack for a warm May night.

Fresh from making a lot of new friends on tour with shoegaze legends Slowdive, Pale Blue Eyes sound like a band with an encyclopaedic knowledge of 80s synth pop and 90s indie rock, but the good sense to wear it lightly – creating something new from those familiar elements that feels both personal and warmly universal.

Their two albums to date are tempered with themes of nostalgia and loss, but the abiding impression that their multi-layered melodic sound leaves tonight is one of joy, exuberance and gratitude.

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Husband and wife duo Lucy and Matt Board are the core of the band, who, though originally founded in Devon, have recently relocated their base of operations to Lucy’s hometown of Sheffield.

Live, Lucy takes the drum stool, with Matt up front on vocals and guitar, and they are joined by John Gooding on synths and extra guitar firepower to help fill in the many sonic layers.

The driving rhythm section is completed by bassist Aubrey Simpson, whose rock-steady flying fingers build the locked-in, hypnotic, motorik-style groove that underpins the whole set, while synths cascade and guitars drive ever forward.

There are melodic hooks aplenty, especially on More, the lead single from new album This House, while the slow-burning Chelsea brings some welcome dynamics. Though they don’t quite approach Slowdive levels of effect-heavy psychedelic sound sculpting, there’s enough technology at the guitarists’ feet to bring to mind The Onion’s headline “Shoegaze band’s pedal board becomes self-aware”.

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Proustian memories of indie discos past reverberate through Pale Blue Eyes’s sound, from Stereolab to The Cure to New Order – or even The Cult on guitar-heavy closer Sister. It’s a perfect soundtrack for a warm May night, evoking hopeful thoughts of the summer evenings to come.

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