Manchester City have a one-goal lead over Manchester United and, with 10 minutes left to play, the title is in the balance.
It's not, therefore, the best time for a band to start their live set. The fact the band in question has decided to open proceedings with the unfamiliar title track from their as-yet unreleased second album – and it's a quiet, complex wee number at that – only makes the challenge more difficult. And yet, within a matter of seconds, the chatter in PJ Molloy's in Dunfermline has dropped to a hush. Wayne Rooney's attempts to find the net are all well and good, but tonight he's going to have to play second fiddle to Admiral Fallow.
"People think that if you come out when everyone's talking, you've got to play something really loud to get their attention," says the band's singer and songwriter, Louis Abbott, when we reconvene in Edinburgh the morning after. "A lot of the time, the opposite is true: if you play something really quiet, it makes folk stop and listen."
The Dunfermline gig is proof of that. The set list consists of about three-quarters of Admiral Fallow's forthcoming album (Tree Bursts In Snow, out on Monday), but the new songs are greeted as warmly as anything they play from their debut (Boots Met My Face, released in March 2010). This has been the case throughout their current tour, which has already taken them across the Highlands and Islands and into England, including stop-offs at London's Camden Crawl and Brighton's Great Escape festival.
There's something in the air that suggests 2012 could be Admiral Fallow's year. It began in an appropriate enough fashion, as they brought in the new year alongside Phil and Aly on the BBC's Hogmanay Live, and it will end in style as they become members of that elite club of bands which have headlined the Barrowland in Glasgow.
That gig on December 8 might seem a long way off at the moment, but everything is driving towards it. At the end of January, Admiral Fallow sold out a headline slot at the ABC during Celtic Connections. A week later, their best-known song, Squealing Pigs, was used to soundtrack a commercial that premiered to an estimated audience of 111 million during Super Bowl 2012. After the current tour and the album release, they'll play a host of summer festivals, then head to Europe and the US for autumn.
Cumulatively it marks a turning point for a group of friends who formed the Brother Louis Collective while studying in Glasgow in 2007. Even after their name change, some band members keep a day job ticking over – clarinettist Kevin Brolly is a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, for example, while drummer Philip Hague regularly spends a couple of days a week as a school teacher – but gaps in their diaries are becoming few and far between.
"It's gathering momentum but in a good way and not too quickly," agrees multi-instrumentalist Sarah Hayes. "Each little step feels like a good step up, a step in the right direction. You become more aware that it is a huge part of your life, just looking ahead."
Musically, Admiral Fallow are labelled "indie-folk" but there's more to it than that. Frightened Rabbit might have opened doors for Abbott's style of writing, but the distinctive arrangements of their songs – which might see Brolly on clarinet and Hayes on flute, with Hague penning string parts and Joe Rattray making his contribution on bass – add a "chamber indie" dimension that brings The Delgados to mind (and makes their working with producer Paul Savage, former Delgados drummer, at the Chem 19 studio all the more appropriate). "In the circles we've always played or worked in, these are not weird or crazy instruments at all," notes Rattray. "We were all pals, and this is what we all brought. We didn't look for musicians who played those specific instruments."
Tree Bursts In Snow moves Admiral Fallow on in a number of ways. The likes of Guest Of The Government and current single The Paper Trench will secure them much-deserved airplay while the sustained artistry of Old Fools and Oh Oscar have lasting depths that might not be instantly apparent. I ask Abbott how he thinks this album differs from its predecessor.
"It's a little harder," he says, "perhaps a little more to the point, a little louder. Writing was a lot more rushed than with the first one because we'd had the luxury of playing the Boots songs live for two and a half years before we recorded them. When we were booked last November into recording a new album, I only had fragments of maybe five or six songs.
"I'm very lucky that pretty much everyone here can play a variety of different things: Sarah, unbeknownst to me until recently, can play the accordion, and I've always loved that sound, so we tried it on a couple of tunes. There's less flute and clarinet than there was on the first one – we were conscious that we'd done it a fair bit on Boots – but if it sounded good on something then we'd use it."
Tree Bursts In Snow also sees Abbott grow as a lyricist. Most of Boots Met My Face – including Subbuteo's description of a particularly vicious beating he received as a teenager – was very specific and personal. The new album touches on more universal themes, and does so in a more poetic manner: its title, for example, is Abbott's metaphorical way of describing the violent act of an artillery shell exploding in a snowy forest.
"The first album was about things that had happened to me before I'd moved through to Glasgow and started writing songs," he explains. "Frankly, I've got nothing to write about since then: I've just been going around playing music. So I had to look outside myself a wee bit. Sometimes it helps to just put yourself in perspective, to sing as the person you're writing about. It still has a personal touch, even though it hasn't happened to me, but I can imagine, obviously, what some of that stuff feels like."
On the morning we meet, the band have to pack up and head to Stirling for yet another gig. Before they go, however, I ask each of them to name the moment that made them realise life in Admiral Fallow had shifted up a gear.
"I study at the RCS and, instead of having to do a recital, they marked me on an Admiral Fallow gig," says Brolly. "Brilliant! The easiest exam I ever sat! Top marks too." For Hayes, it was the feeling that everyone – band and audience – at the ABC gig "was on the same page"; for festival veteran Rattray, the "weird but cool" sensation of seeing his own band's name among the set times at last year's Glastonbury festival.
Hague takes a bit longer to ponder the question: "It's not a specific thing, but moving home to Edinburgh has given me focus after six years of college in Glasgow and doing music flat out with the band. I've got a lot of mates from school who have degrees and either don't know what to do with them or have been having hard times. So when you go to the pub, and they ask what you've been up to, and you say you've been on tour or made a music video or supported a great band, they're the people who will say 'that's amazing'. You can get blinkered in a band, and that's been a proper, necessary medicine."
And for Abbott? "Festivals such as Green Man, Latitude, End Of The Road ... I never thought we'd get a chance to play any of those. Last year was a great summer and, for me, that was a turning point because suddenly we weren't only doing little club gigs but getting on to big stages at these festivals – and, for the most part, holding our own on these bigger spaces."
Give it time: the stages will get bigger yet. Admiral Fallow are on a roll. No sleep until Barrowland.
Tree Bursts In Snow is released on the Nettwerk label on Monday. Admiral Fallow play Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Monday; Fat Sam's, Dundee, Tuesday; and Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, Wednesday. For other dates in 2012 see admiralfallow.com/live. With thanks to The Dogs, 110 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, www.thedogsonline.co.uk.