Sharp-suited swamp yetis whacking large pieces of wood. An apparition in lace bounding around the audience like the ghost of a tragic Victorian bride. Fizzing krautrock odysseys overlaid with cultish mantras and retro synths. No, this wasn’t a fever dream brought on by the unseasonal weather, but Snapped Ankles’ sold-out launch show for their much-anticipated second album Stunning Luxury.
Though the motley crew of shaggy haired woodwose first emerged from the arboreal depths in 2011, their anarchic DIY aesthetic that combines motorik, psychedelic and post-punk influences with glowing rubies, mighty antlers and the repeated hitting of very large sticks began to truly attract critical interest after the release of 2017’s Come Play The Trees.
Tonight’s run through their follow-up effort proves they haven’t lost that magic touch, showcasing a number of eclectic tracks that build upon the ramshackle vibrancy of the debut whilst cranking up the energy levels to new and bewildering heights. There’s times where they sound like an absurdist Massive Attack; at others, like Mark E Smith if he was reincarnated as a piece of shrubbery, yet despite the variety of influences on display, the set never feels disjointed or lacking in flow.
There’s always a risk that bands like Snapped Ankles will be dismissed by the joy-voids of the ~serious music~ fraternity as mere novelties, but based on the evidence here, they’re far from being all fur coat and no knickers. Apart from the costumes, an interlude where Main Tree Guy launches himself around the venue with measuring tape for obscure reasons, and the use of the estate agent sign post as a percussive instrument, most of their set is actually relatively straight-laced, focused on whipping up the venue into a rhythmic frenzy rather than theatrics or gimmickry. Intense and invigorating, they’re undoubtedly one of the most enthralling live propositions London has to offer right now.