Here we have the unveiling of Exclamation Pony, Ryan Jarman (The Cribs) and Jen Turner’s (Here We Go Magic) out-of-the-blue collaboration, and Ryan seemed genuinely enthused to be bashing his poor guitar in a word-of-mouth sold-out Brudenell before anywhere else.
The one track available as a precursor to the show, ‘Rumours’, couldn’t have prepared the audience for the abrasive rapid-fire punk shout of their opener. However, once they followed with ‘Rumours’ it seemed like business as usual for the Cribs singer. His trademark guitar, all off-kilter high-end with very little bass, predominated. Aside from the intrusion of synth and the welcome presence of a female voice alongside the usual masculine posturing, it was nothing really new for him, excepting maybe a more introspective self-doubting nature to the lyrics (“I don’t care that I don’t believe/I don’t believe in me”) and more down tempo songs.
What saved the gig, apart from Ryan’s unfailingly charismatic banter and Jen’s presence, were the fresh songs. The aforementioned punk song aside, the second-but-last track had a more dance-punk vibe, a repetitive Morse Code synth line and tribal drums, minimal and excellent with Jen’s vocals coming to the fore. Its rock out ending was awesomely heavy. Unfortunately, they then closed anticlimactically with another Cribs-lite song.
A mid-set onstage marriage proposal by an audience member, a fellow Ryan no less, showed the room to be heavy with the future. Exclamation Pony’s more original material showed real promise. Ryan’s just gotta move past the Cribs first.
Words: Sam Coe