Toreador are a trio of Southampton locals whose work I’ve been following for a while, their tone a grungy-sounding rock with a blues edge, brilliant harmonies and clear vocals that distinguish it clearly from the varieties of garage and grunge I enjoy less. Toreador’s song “Ashes” was featured on my playlist of 2019 indie discoveries and is a frequently-played addition to many of my personal playlists. The band have had a busy year in 2020, with both their debut EP “Hot Glue” and their first UK tour already behind them. They had been set to play in the semi-finals of the Hot Vox ‘New Blood’ competition for the opportunity to play at this year’s Isle Of Wight festival, having beaten over a thousand other applicants for the opportunity. As with many artist’s recent plans, this was prevented by the recent lockdown, but not to be put off, Toreador today release a new single, “Shiver and Shake,” which comes with a moody and atmospheric video to complement its smooth bluesy tones.
Toreador set off their new release in true lockdown grace with a live acoustic stream on Facebook where they played Shiver and Shake for all to enjoy. The acoustic rendition brought out the subtle yet insistent rhythm of the track and offered an opportunity to hear those harmonies as if sitting alongside the band in the garden, which is not to be missed for any of their songs but a special treat in the case of a newly released single.
Toreador specialise in harmonies and deep, slightly bluesy bass riffs that keep you moving to their rhythms even on their slower tracks. Shiver and Shake is one of these slower numbers, but keeps you dancing with a kind of slippery, sexy blues-style mood punctuated with bright harmony highlights.
Shiver and Shake feels quite long, but that isn’t necessarily bad; it’s a bit like you’re inside the song’s story, and have to follow it all the way once you start, which rings true with the band’s description of the song. Toreador say the song is “about the concept of meeting someone who you have an instant connection with,” and the sound of the track does convey this feeling; beyond the initial attraction and into the seemingly inevitable future of a relationship that feels easy. “Sometimes you meet a person and instantly click, like a sort of divine chemistry that makes everything naturally easy as if you were always meant to meet that person,” the band say. “Ultimately it’s the interaction between people that we are remembered for, not what we have said or done, but…how we have made people feel.”
The words that open the chorus, “shiver and shake and isolate in time,” speak to me of the moments where these kind of interactions; those where we “just click” with others, take us out of our day to day lives for a while and make us aware that everything could be different, if we made it so. The misty, shadowy, sometimes out of focus images of the band in the video add to a certain mood of being out late, caught in an interaction you’re trying to draw out for longer. We’re just watching them play, but the lighting is reminiscent of street lamps and the coloured pops of pubs and restaurant windows, neon signs in the streets in the rain. Some things are out of focus – hidden behind the limitless drive to prolong the time spent in the company of a newly found connection.
I hesitate to suggest that listeners drink tea while taking in this song, which feels more like we should take a leaf out of Stand Atlantic’s book and go for “Coffee at Midnight,” perhaps with whiskey, but if I had to pick something I’d say listen to this with something exotic you haven’t tried before. Make it a new experience, like the meeting of new but like minds that the song describes. This was an instant addition to the “Southampton Rocks” playlist, and I’m sure we can expect only more good things from Toreador in the future, so keep an eye on their work on Spotify, Facebook, their website, or wherever you like to follow your favourite bands.