Again Into Eyes
Oct 04, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent
S.C.U.M's debut LP (and yes, their name is a reference to the infamous Valerie Solanis' SCUM Manifesto screed) is a magnificent opening salvo, as the London act recalls the fuck-all attitude and melodies of David Bowie and Brian Eno circa their '70s glam phase, while nodding to the sonic adventurousness of the reverb heavy U.K. shoegaze scene of the early '90s.
Thomas Cohen's baritone vocals have a nice combination of Ian Curtis-like ennui and Farris Badwan (The Horrors) theatrics. Cohen dazzles on the band's first single "Amber Hands," as he croons cryptically of "seasons in the sun" over a melody lifted straight from Brian Eno's "Needle in the Camel's Eye" that shifts jarringly at the chorus as an arsenal of keyboards and swirling effects pedals kick into overdrive.
"Summon the Sound" is an inscrutable number, buried beneath layers of reverb and waves of white noise, undergirded by a tom-tom drum beat courtesy of Melissa Rigby, as the track builds to a cacophonous crescendo, led by Cohen's repetitively dazed intonation of "summon the sound" as if he's conducting a séance.
The second, quieter half of this bifurcated record kicks off with the hypnotic "Sentinel Bloom," as Cohen assuredly croons, "Still I hold on," before a muted loop of feedback eradicates any trace of equanimity.
The fulsome piano ripples of "Paris" provide a welcome respite, as Cohen comes clean, confessing with contrition and vulnerability, "All the graces of love are over now for you/And I will never bare my skin for you and feel you once more in beauty's remorse." It's a gorgeous elegy to wasted youth and love, and the most emotionally direct song on the album, and suggests that S.C.U.M may possess something sorely lacking in bands in 2011—longevity. (www.myspace.com/scum1968)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 10/10