Album Review: Performance – Red Brick Heart

By on Friday, 8th October 2010 at 12:00 pm

Performance is a power pop trio from Manchester. Before you start groaning the mention of the term ‘power pop’, which probably conjures up memories of Whitesnake and the Phil Collins-led Genesis, I think this trio has what it takes to make it. A band needs amazing instrumentation and compelling lyrics to win me over, and Performance has both in spades.

‘The Unconsoled’ is the last single Performance has released and as a starting track for ‘Red Brick Heart’, you couldn’t do any better. It comes with Joe Cross’s thumping drums (programmed?) and Joe Stretch’s powerful vocals, supported with Laura Marsden’s angelic backing vocals and swirly guitar work. I can’t stop listening to it. It’s one of those songs that is going to stay in my consciousness for a long time. ‘The Living’ was the single right before ‘The Unconsoled’, and it’s equally great. Stretch sings, “you had the best night / it’s all on your Web site” – I had to laugh to myself, because those lines could have been written about me, I’m always posting everywhere when I’ve had a good (usually gig) night out. I think many music heads can relate. Watch the blindingly white video for the song below. Oh dear, Stretch’s smouldering stare is quite the asset as well…

From a writer’s standpoint, let’s look at the track ‘The Love’. “I miss you like a language” and “I planted kisses but they won’t grow”? Swoon. ‘Red Brick Heart’ is a sweet shop for writers, intellectuals, what have you. You just want to keep sampling everything, and again and again. It might eventually start to feel like a guilty pleasure because the album just feels so right. ‘International’, ‘Let’s Start’ and ‘O Surgeon’ are more winners.

‘Eleanor’, the lone instrumental on ‘Red Brick Heart’, is a surprising and all too short beauty. Not as exciting is ‘Reptile’, which feels like a small misstep compared to the rest of the album, so I can overlook this. Overall, this album is brilliant. Still sceptical? The band is offering a sampler of half of the album. Listen to it and fall in love. Then skedaddle to the music shop (online or otherwise) and get it for your collection.


’Red Brick Heart’ is available now. Performance is supporting fellow Mancunians Hurts tonight (the 8th) in Bristol and tomorrow (Saturday the 9th) in London.

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