Cardiff Barfly, 25/10/06

I've been seeing Triflesky's name on posters around the South Wales area for going on seven years now, but this is the first time I've got around to seeing them. For some reason -- perhaps things I've read about them previously, or perhaps just that ever-so-slightly-too-twee name -- I'm expecting some sort of cutesy, inoffensive acoustifolk thing. What I'm not expecting is dark, sensual electronics, toy guitars, shrieking saxophone solos and jungle noises, all fronted by a woman who could be Roisin Murphy's dominatrix aunt. They remain just the right side of whimsical, and are utterly captivating.

When Ridinghood launch into "SMS", a song about "text messaging and the perils thereof," I start to think I might be going a bit mad. Because they might all look like indie kids, and they might be bashing out the cock-rock riffs with obvious gusto, but I can't stop thinking of... Aqua. Perhaps it's the female vocals (deceptively saccharine but powerful), or perhaps it's the big, dumb choruses that would be singalong if anybody knew them. They really give it their all, and they're fun for about the first third of their set, but once I realize that -- rather like the Scandinavian popsters -- they've pretty much been playing the same song for the last half hour, things start to drag.

But at least I'm not the only one losing it. Once they've left the stage, one of my gig-going companions turns to me, his brow furrowed. "I'm not being funny," he says, "But that last band reminded me of Aqua."

The Sohodolls are a member down tonight. Ana Doll is ill, meaning that Maya's saddled with keyboard duties as well as singing, but this lot still know how to put on a show. I'm expecting them to be a bit aloof, a bit icy, and they certainly look cooler than cool in their matching sailor stripes, but they're surprisingly... well, cute. There's plenty of giggling and joking with the audience, and the technical fuck-ups, of which there are several, are handled with plenty of charm.

But I'm in danger of forgetting about the music here. And that would be a shame, because it really is rather (by which I mean very) good. "1724" is superbly creepy, "Pleasures Of Soho" a delicious sex-daze, and "Prince Harry" possessed of the sort of quietly insistent pop hook that you find still firmly lodged in your head a week later. It's all rounded off with the eat-your-heart-out-Goldfrapp electroglam stomp of "Stripper" -- utterly fabulous gender-bending filth which everybody in the world should go and buy right now. Good unclean fun.

Jessica Trash

Pic by Gregory Nolan