Felix / Soueza @ Café Kino, Bristol 03.08.12

Café Kino can only squeeze about 40 people into its tiny, low-ceilinged basement underneath one of the better known eateries in Stokes Croft, Bristol, but it’s the perfect space for the tense but hypnotic piano lullabies of Felix, who are touring their second album, Holy Molar.

Aug 3rd, 2012 at Cafe Kino, Bristol / By Adam Corner
Felix First up, though, are support act Soueza – an unusual arrangement of two drummers, a bit of guitar, a lead French horn and some occasional vocals. Like an alt-folk version of Battles, or Pavement if they’d opted for brass over wonky guitar lines, this is classy and quirky stuff, and the perfect warm up for Felix.

Talking of the ‘q’ word, the abundance of rubbish ‘quirky and/or tormented female vocalists singing in an affected style over emotive piano’ acts means that any band even vaguely ploughing that furrow has to do a lot to elevate themselves above the fray. Fortunately, although Felix do in fact feature the aforementioned vocal-piano combination, Lucinda Chua (the singer and focal point of the band) is bewitching, and easily transcends the genre stereotypes that might, in lesser hands, grate.

Powering – if this heavy-handed word even makes sense for such a controlled, graceful performance – through material taken primarily from their latest album, Felix have a rare gift for drawing an audience in, keeping their attention, lulling them into an almost meditative state, and then placing them gently back down somewhere slightly different. Stand-out track ‘Hate Song’ is – like much of their work – lyrical poison coated in innocent, disarming, but haunting melodies. Some of the new material is more ambitious and sprawling than anything on their first album, but a soft, seductive, immediate appeal remains in the vast majority of the tracks they debut tonight – and ‘The Bells’ is a particularly serene moment.

Testament to the quality – and credibility – of the band is that they can get away with handing bells to the audience to ring through another new song, ‘Oh Thee’, and it feels neither contrived nor chaotic. Beautiful, sinister and sweet, Felix are head and shoulders above the rest.