If the crowd’s reaction to Tuff Love’s fuzzy indie pop at this east London pub is anything to go by, they could shortly be the band name on everyone’s lips.
A lot of music writers are talking about Tuff Love, and rightly so, but you may not have heard of them. You will soon. 2015 has been a packed year for this duo from Glasgow, with tours of the UK and mainland Europe and a host of summer festival slots now in the bag. They were also personally invited to support reformed shoegaze legends Ride on their first UK tour in 20 years and then later Scottish soul-pop singer Paolo Nutini at a special one-off outdoor show at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. This band is on the verge of something big.
With the release of new EP ‘Dregs’ (out now via Lost Map) Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) have obviously grown in confidence. It is five songs of sun-soaked guitar pop perfection that builds on the summery indie sound of their two previous EPs – all self-engineered and self-produced in Bear’s flat.
On stage they are as unassuming as they are compelling, kicking off the set with the short but buzzing ‘Sweet Discontent’. Their harmonies are just as honey-drenched live as they are on record and these float above the scuzzy guitar riffs and Iain Stewart’s fizzing drums.
There are cries of “turn up the bass” after ‘Poncho’ and Bear duly obliges, although then turns it back down after the Smiths-esque ‘Threads’ because the vibrations are tickling Eisenstein’s feet. ‘Carbon’ slows the pace down slightly as it drifts along, carried by Bear’s melodic bassline. ‘Groucho’ and ‘Doberman’ both sound much rockier live, but without losing that unique dreamy quality that this band infuse into all their songs. With the lack of an actual flute at the end of ‘Crocodile’ they manage just fine using those heavenly vocals to make up for it.
The set is wrapped up with the punky smash of ‘That’s Right’ followed by the infectious and head nod inducing ’Slammer’ with its amusing sweetly-sung declaration of “I’ve got rage”.
At one point in the set Bear notices that “all of our songs fade out at the end…we should stop doing that”. She shouldn’t worry – their song writing style is a winning formula and they leave the crowd grinning as they depart.
So, look out for Tuff Love in 2016 as I guarantee you’ll be hearing more from them. And when you do you’ll find out, as I did, that their dazzling music and laid-back attitude is easy to fall in love with.
Photos © Rhiannon Ormerod