You can’t miss THØSS. Walk down the stairs into the basement of the Sebright Arms and he’s that bloke who’s nearly touching the ceiling. And in case his tremendous height wasn’t enough, he’s also the white guy with the pseudo-afro, adorned in retro candy-floss advertising (get it? Candy THØSS: available in complementary packets if you follow his instagram). I love it: he’s like the definition of stage presence, a spectacle all in himself.
So who is THØSS? Beyond being real life giant (have I stressed that enough?), he snuck on the scene with his 2016 debut EP Benchwarmer, and has been turning some heads, including a recent spin on Bestival’s main stage. Plus, basically everything he releases gets slotted on the respective ‘new and exciting’ BBC, Spotify or Apple Music playlist. It’s quality not quantity; shuffle his fine sample of songs and you won’t fancy skipping.
Obviously, the best way to decide if THØSS is for you is to click a link and give him a listen, but generally there are echoes here of bands like Bombay Bicycle club in his vocals, and harmonies wedded with clean guitar lines reminiscent of Vampire Weekend.
Reverb-y soundscapes of songs like “IWITW (I Was In The Water)” have had him likened to Daughter, and “Submarine” hints at some of the better bits of Mystery Jets too. This doesn’t really do him justice: he’s refreshing, attempting to “[make] the old, new” – and it’s working excellently so far.
THØSS is the man, [the myth] and the music. You can tell he’s a real frontman, not least because he kind of takes up half of the stage wrapped around his telecaster. Fingers too long for the fret board and a voice too substantial for the size of the venues he’s playing – indeed, he gave us a lovely intimate gig, interspersed with pleasant audience chatter – he just feels like an artist bursting with potential, ready for bigger things.
Enhanced by a wonderfully tight, if understated, band, including a resident faux Jesus-lookalike who rocked out on the keyboard, the focus was nevertheless always THØSS. We were even treated to a very personal solo cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, blanketed in flanger-y guitar.
Shiny new release “Two Laces” was a highlight. It came with a complementary anecdote on his trying and failing to tie Shoelaces around the door handles of Spotify (a kind of post-post-punk act of rebellion?).
The lyrics complement the track delightfully: almost word painting with narrative of his “wandering” against meandering melodious vocals. This one is rhythmically playful, ambient and kaleidoscopic: I like to listen to it when I’m walking to work hungover.
Another favourite was “The Meter”, underpinned by a rumbling retro guitar riff that channels his old-school feel. This track is a bit rougher and tougher – the other THØSS sound – similar in style to “Benchwarmer”. The chorus really shows off his astounding vocal range, and the subject matter is charmingly inane. Everyone likes this song, even my mum.
It’s always an added bonus when I find some good guitar music and it isn’t a waste of time lyrically. I think that’s probably why I’ve been listening to THØSS for several weeks and I’m still uncovering new moments and meanings: pretty impressive when I have about seven songs to play with. THØSS is second to none at painting poetic suburbia, telling stories of getting blanked by acquaintances (Keep Going) or the adolescent awkwardness of being “born two steps behind” (Benchwarmer).
The new material is not compromising on quality: another new single “Work is a Four Letter Word” (I’m unsure if/what the Cilla Black connection is here but I like it anyway) is moody and groovy, and he unveiled a new song all about – and aptly named – “Exotic Fruit”. The future is bright for this bloke, so watch closely for his upcoming Mayday EP.
Words by Immy Hequet