S.C.U.M. - Again into Eyes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

S.C.U.M. - Again into Eyes

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2011-09-12

Listening to this, the debut album from sulky, goth-smudge, London types S.C.U.M. is both intriguing and a little uncomfortable. Intriguing because the band continually find ways to confound or exceed my expectations; uncomfortable because these moments cause me to bump up against what may well be my own lazy music-snob tenancies. If you don't know where I'm coming from, let me explain: S.C.U.M. (named after dear old Valerie Solanas' Society for Cutting Up Men) boast both a brother of a Horror and the son of an Add N to (X). So what?, you may ask. It's hardly I Blame Coco and her weirdly inherited faux-patois vowels, is it?

Ah, but it is like that in the extent to which S.C.U.M. resemble the latter-day, psychedelically-inclined, Krautrocking Horrors we know and love. Basically, S.C.U.M. sound like they had Primary Colours and Skying on repeat while making this album. Or perhaps they're just referencing the same bands as The Horrors, a band also content to wear their influences on their non-more-black sleeves. Either way, at least S.C.U.M. are nicking from the right sources, right? And that would be the full extend of this review were it not for the slightly annoying fact that much of Again into Eyes is actually ruddy good. From the skipping, oddly uplifting goth-popera of 'Whitechapel' to the, er, goth-popera of 'Days Untrue' and 'Summon the Sound', it's clear that this band has got its sound together.

What's more, every time you think you've got the measure of S.C.U.M. they go and chuck in something a little unexpected, like the melodramatic chord progression in 'Days Untrue' and you have to rethink your stance. They also have a commendable fearlessness in the face of ridicule, often staying just the right side of parody, the way Suede managed for about five minutes in the early 90s. 'Paris' is a proper piano-led torch song, with singer Thomas Cohen giving it the full achey-numb, "I would cry if only I wasn't so far gone on these exquisite drugs", Brett Anderson treatment. They also treat us to another slowie called 'Requiem'. Yes, 'Requiem'. As in: Alien Vs Predator: Requiem. It sounds like James Blunt minced up inside a Dada experiment. Which is obviously wonderful.

All good, then. But the issue of the band's similarity to big boys The Horrors won't go away. Again into Eyes lacks the vivacity of The Horrors' last two albums, while Cohen's reedy, early Bowie voice makes you realise how much gravitas Faris Badwan now brings to his band's output. As much fun as opener 'Faith Unfolds' is, sounding like a great lost track from the first Psychedelic Furs album, one feels Badwan could bring the necessary cactus-guzzling, shamanistic depth to its refrain of "We dreamed our own fate".

So, this is a daft, ballsy, quite loveable album with some very good music on it. But the question you need to ponder is this: do you need Again into Eyes in your life when you already have Primary Colours and Skying? Before I sat down and listened, I thought I knew the answer. Now I'm not so sure. Anyway, while I ponder that, I'm going to listen to The Horrors.

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