10th October 2011
The Deaf Institute
There is something undeniably fitting about the fact that the Deaf Institute was the site of an important development in the recent career of Emmy the Great; in addition to a shared interest in ironic names, a venue with such an eccentric style – garish wallpaper and oversized disco ball both present and correct – is the perfect setting for an evening of equally incongruous music.
The bulk of tonight’s set sees Emmy – real name Emma-Lee Moss – showcasing tracks from Virtue, stripped-down versions of which were debuted here a year ago. Thematically inspired by the sudden religious conversion and subsequent desertion of Emmy’s one-time fiancé, it’s as unusual a breakup album as you’re likely to hear this year. Opener ‘Dinosaur Sex’ manages to use prehistoric copulation as the backdrop for a haunting reflection on the ultimately futile nature of life, proving that the more musically expansive nature of the new material hasn’t blunted Moss’ aptitude for sharp, if leftfield, lyrical imagery. ‘Paper Forest’ perhaps best showcases the new reliance on keyboards and minimalist approach to the electric guitar; a dense, evocative epic with atmosphere by the spade, it’s typical of the startlingly mature feel of the new record as compared to her older material, which seems almost juvenile by way of comparison.
Nevertheless, the biggest cheers of the night are reserved for the first-album likes of ‘MIA’ and ‘Edward Is Dedward’; disarmingly forthright odes to car crashes and suicide respectively, they prove that Moss’ primary skill as a songwriter is her quick-witted lyrical style – there’s a brilliant talent to being able to deal with tragedy and heartbreak in such a charming manner, and it’s the cathartic nature of such that, ultimately, ensures the capacity crowd goes home happy.