The Devonshire town of Totnes is like a cross between a home county village and a New Age bohemian commune. One moment you’re tucking into tea and scones (bone china and doilies, no less), and the next you’re purchasing dream catchers and incense sticks; if you want quaint medieval markets one minute and vegan health food stores the next, then this is the place to go. In a way, it makes perfect sense that Matthew & Me originated here. Not because they evoke either of these original Totnes quirks, but because, similarly, they manage to seamlessly tie together a number of usually opposing styles: indie, pop, folk, and post-rock.
The support act for the night came from Daniel Lloyd, who’s hotly tipped (by me) to be a rising star in Devon. Standing alone on stage with nothing but an electric guitar, he deftly picked his way through his brand of witty, stylish, somewhat unsettling (in a good way) folk rock. The track Ever Forever in particular demonstrates a perfect blend of Alex Turner’s quiet cockiness and Timber Timbre’s ghoulish charm.
By the time Matthew & Me took to the stage The Barrel House was suitably packed. What was most immediately notable about them was just how comfortable and self-assured, yet simultaneously humble, they appeared on stage. This quiet confidence in their personas was perfectly suited to the tone of their music: spacious, thoughtful soundscapes, accompanied by a pop-oriented sensibility. Think indie-folk stars Daughter, crossed with post-rock giants Sigur Ros.
Lead singer Matthew Board’s ethereal falsetto is just so pleasant to listen to; it really hooks your ear into the music, and carries it along through the quiet sections, and lofty climaxes. Some songs took on an almost shoegaze quality, as the guitarist produced an array of beautiful sounds aided by his impressive collection of pedals. It was really one of those gigs where you lose yourself in the music and the performance. If I did have any complaint, it would be that they made me lose myself so thoroughly that some songs seemed to blend into the next. It didn’t help that they’re a little lacking in stylistic variation. That being said, tracks like Figure and Joy really stuck out. Figure in particular has been swirling around my head since the gig finished.
If you’re a fan of Foals, Daughter, Mystery Jets, indie-pop-rock in general, but are getting tired of the same old sounds, then Matthew & Me are definitely worth listening to and going to see. They have a sound in a similar vein but supply a little something more in the form of atmospheric vibes and ethereal heights.