Release Date: Oct 4, 2011
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
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. .
Two years ago [a]S.C.U.M[/a] were black of heart, soul and high-waisted slacks. Named after the bile-scorched screed of feminist writer Valerie Solanas (sample: “[i]the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion[/i]” – Caitlin Moran it isn’t), their sonic heart of darkness encased in a flinty ribcage of distortion was just the sort of thing for the crucifix-flaunting class of 2008.But the London five-piece, mourning the (near) death of ROMANCE or the outcome of An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, waited for east London’s dark summer to pass. ‘[b]Again Into Eyes[/b]’ is their revised manifesto.
The debut from SCUM proves two things. First, that suggestions they are the baby brother band of the Horrors are hardly inaccurate. They share DNA at a biological level – bassist Huw Webb is brother to Rhys Webb of the Horrors – and at a musical one, with the baleful voice of Thomas Cohen – echoing Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs, a key influence on the last Horrors album – laid over swirling synths and occasional motorik rhythms.
Those bittersweetly in favor of reformed goths The Horrors’ new post-punk direction might be wise to seek refuge in S.C.U.M. No need to cry, glum ones; slump back and allow the startlingly mature sounds on S.C.U.M.‘s debut, Again Into Eyes, to deliver you from an indie rock climate currently enamored with the past’s lighter tones. True, S.C.U.M.‘s image is irritatingly fashionable and aspects of the band can come across as laughably pretentious, but S.C.U.M.
S.C.U.M's first full-length is a significant step forward from their 2008 debut EP, Visions Arise, which lingered in the gothy shadows of post-punk revivalism. On Again into Eyes, they streamline their approach, recalling not only the late-‘80s and early-‘90s bands that carried post-punk out to its logical (or bitter) end the first time around, but droning and driving contemporaries like Film School and labelmates A Place to Bury Strangers. S.C.U.M deliver full-bore rock early on in the album with “Faith Unfolds” and “Days Untrue,” but despite the volume, their songs aren’t especially obvious; there’s something subtle and whispery about them, making their louder songs more like an enveloping fog than a wall of sound.
Look up any review of S.C.U.M. in the British music press, and you're likely to encounter the phrase "little Horrors," a diminutive comparison to the band that put out this year's fine LP Skying. This was S.C.U.M.'s first handy hook for the NME-- not only because bassist Huw Webb is the younger brother of the Horrors' Rhys Webb, but also because the bands share traits on the musical and magazine-ready haircuts-and-cheekbones levels.
Sounding like a long-lost artifact from the 80s, the debut album from three-year-old London band S.C.U.M. is icy, detached and perfectly suited to autumn's overcast days. Singer Thomas Cohen sounds a bit like Peter Murphy's kid brother. He keeps the lyrics spare and obtuse, delivering them with a sharpness that's antithetical to the airy synths swirling through the songs.
A bold debut from a young London outfit full of promise. Ian Wade 2011 S.C.U.M. – or to give them their full originally-invented-by-would-be-Warhol-assassin Valerie-Solanas name, Society For Cutting Up Men: essentially a cheery manifesto about how all men are a bit rubbish, basically – hark back to the clattering industrial sounds of yore, managing to evade the ham-fisted attempts of lesser acts who’ve looked to the era for inspiration.
Listening to S.C.U.M's Again Into Eyes, it seems near to impossible to describe what this band have created without reference to other bands before them. The sonic palette is by turns Telescopes-esque shoegazer, post-Goth (showing just a hint of lace sleeve, pomp and a strategically placed pair of Aviators), Low-period Bowie and Dog Man Star-era Suede. Nick Cave-styled lead singer/lyricist Thomas Cohen seems to veer from Bowie/Pete Murphy laconic drawl to almost uncanny Brett Anderson, depending on the amount of reverb applied (and it's applied copiously and often).