Gig review: Owl And Mouse at Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Owl and Mouse
Owl and Mouse
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Owl And Mouse are the kind of band you’d hire to record the theme tune to a children’s nostalgia show.

The Anglo-Australian quartet specialise in sweetly harmonised songs that have a sense of longing in their melancholy understatement.

Originally a solo effort from songwriter and ukulele player Hannah Botting, who’s the sister of Allo Darlin’s bass player Bill, she’s since been joined by minor luminaries from the indie circuit. These include violinist Dan Mayfield, who’s played with Darren Hayman, and bassist Tom Wade, who performs with We Aeronauts.

The influence of these acts can be heard in Owl And Mouse’s gentle indie-folk and occasionally knowing lyrics (“I love your T-shirt,” sings Botting pointedly at one point, “The band looks cool”).

Their starting point as a one-woman band can nonetheless still be heard in songs such as ‘Worst Kiss’, which has a charming simplicity to its instrumentation, and ‘Basic Economics’, which derives its tension from Wade’s ghost vocals rather than its music score.

It’s this use of harmonies that really distinguishes the band from being a solo endeavour. Both former single ‘Octopi’ and ‘Sick Of Love’, which starts off as Kate Nash with a ukulele, build from Botting’s raw delivery into something more ambitious as they close with a joyfully mournful chorus of four voices.

There’s a danger that these tracks are too wispy and cute to make a serious impact but on a warm summer’s evening they certainly fit the right mood.