The signage turns Cornish as we wind our way down the A38, the rain pummelling against the car windows, the cold starting to set in, the bright lights of Plymouth fading into the blackness.
Now we literally step back in time, entering the slate caves, an ancient monument to stillness and glacial beauty. Greeted by treated guitars and programmed beats, lurching into the present - meeting the tail end of TLU (The Lovework Unit…)
The next act begins with subtlety and suggestion, a series of pastoral vignettes. The vocals echo expressively amidst delicate finger-picking guitar lines – ‘I found home…’ – all reflective, providing beatific space between the silences. There is room to breathe – to see breath, clamouring, the restless intricacy of emotions.
We move through, the images and thoughts tumbling gently in free fall – beaches, long walks, autumnal hush, smouldering bonfires, smoke curling upwards. We are all insignificant, beauty is ethereal. Sounds and chords peal, ascending in slow motion arpeggio patterns. Barely there, then reaching in to grasp the flower, the stem, bursting into tiny, orange coloured flames.
It transforms into a confusing mess of shoe gazing and tuneless raving, like 1990 never happened and there’s whiskey in the water! Reminding us of Lush, but without the sublime tunes, distracting for all the wrong reasons. You can hear elements of early Cure, faintly Eastern inflections, pressure on the drum pad, mysterious but frustrating.
The vocals soon resemble St Etienne, set to stripped back electro, deep and dirty Def Jux style hip hop beats, casual distortion, the mood strung out and tribal, advancing and argument through pure repetition. They lose direction again, it turns to turgid mess, a troubled maelstrom of ideas, revelling in its identity crisis.
Matthew and Me bring the heavy load home, starting up with a communal sing-along, laden with hooks like so many Christmas decorations – ‘You know, you know, you know’.
There are dream pop signifiers, like Prefab Sprout in their prime, lush and seamlessly well constructed, architectural pop perfection. Girl and boy intone – ‘You make my heart go…’ intertwined, lost in the moment. Next the lead man steps out into the heart of the audience, to deliver his tender vocal, intimate acoustics plucked and reverberating off the slate cavern walls….
Propulsion pulls us on, the journey continues, framed by ‘Go Easy’, with its willing refrain of ‘So happy to believe!’ energising the souls surrounded. ‘September’ sounds like pure nostalgia, while ‘Hide and Seek’ is awash with grand keyboard swells, a stormy emotional melting pot, with Bonham style big drum skin bashing. It is suitably epic, like late period Ride in soft focus.
Things slow down; motion lost then regained the guitar lines plangent and ringing. You don’t want it all to end, need to keep pushing on to new limits. After 8 minutes, the hug is all-consuming.
The closer is buoyed up by rolling piano riffs, set against coruscating guitars, revealing M & M’s vaulting ambition to reach further above, into the ether and beyond. Support this crew, keep them close to your feverish hearts….x