Third Man Theme/Kowalski

Oh ye hipsters of little faith

Third Man Theme – 'Tears On Tate'
(Available now)

The emergence of hipster culture in Belfast has been a mixed blessing. Ironic knitwear clutters up the corners of cool dives like the Menagerie and gaunt, bored faces peer out from behind oversized glasses in a calculated display of ennui.

On the plus side, the usual list of influences upon Belfast bands is getting a bit of a kicking. Musically, things are changing. The new scene has thrown up some interesting new bands. One of which is Third Man Theme, a three-piece specialising in painfully oblique art-rock.

The band’s earliest efforts seemed to revel in a deliberately ugly, lo-fi sound. It ticked off all the right boxes on the hipster checklist, but sounded rather insincere in the process. ‘Tears on Tate’, their debut release proper, is a different story.

A playfully ramshackle affair, it’s still far from high-fi, but displays an accessibility hitherto only hinted at. The Caribbean sounding guitar line underpins the entire song and chanted vocals give the track an exuberant feel that compels the listener to get involved.

However, like contemporaries such as Girls Names, Third Man Theme give such a strong impression of what they are RIGHT NOW that it’s difficult to imagine them being able to develop into anything else. That will leave them looking somewhat redundant when the hipsters move on to another long forgotten pocket of pop culture.

No matter, as whether it’s cultural tourism at its worst, or just a genuinely likeable tune in its own right, ‘Tears on Tate’ is a strong opening statement from a band whose star is in the ascendant. For the foreseeable future, at least.

Kowalski – 'Outdoors'
(Available August 22)

It had all been going so well for Kowalski. A series of well received releases, and some high profile support gigs... and then silence. For ages. In the meantime, Two Door Cinema Club emerged from their shadow and became global superstars.

You would have forgiven Kowalski for throwing up their arms and mumbling, 'Well, that’s that then.' But they’ve returned for another bite of the apple, and on the evidence of this single, it seems they’ve still got a lot of fight left in them.

Gliding along on the kind of gossamer light melody, ‘Outdoors’ is sleek and modern. It is a glorious slice of pop from a band who are old hands at this kind of thing. It does sound like Two Door Cinema Club, but it arguably betrays a more mature sensibility than Bangor’s other successful sons.

In the absence of new material from Two Door Cinema Club, this could be just what the doctor ordered. It remains to be seen whether Kowalski can truly escape the success that should have been theirs, but this is a promising start.