For a young group, S.C.U.M have certainly garnered quite a lot of attention regarding the release of their entrancing debut record, Again Into Eyes. But it seems like a majority of the coverage is focused on who certain members of the band are related to or dating, where they got their name from, or what current bands they are copping their sound from. But within that insipid social scrutiny and tiresome games of sound-alike, a lot of people forget to mention just how compelling the record is, or bring it up as a mere afterthought because of a lingering sense of journalistic duty.
Sure, there are particular aspects of the band’s bloodlines and choices in significant others that have cleared some coveted space in the headlines for them and opened some important industry doors in the process, but ultimately without the music all of this uproar would be rather pointless, no? And thankfully, this textured, evocative batch of songs should outshine and outlast all of the superfluous hype surrounding the band.
The album opens with the spiraling, synth-heavy ‘Faith Unfolds,’ which has an infectious pulse to it that is reminiscent of indelible 80s anthems, just with a thoroughly modern flair. ‘Days Untrue’ continues the strong start, as the soaring keyboards easily elevate the song while Melissa Rigby’s driving, relentless rhythms keep the track steadily churning forward. Thomas Cohen’s baleful baritone enriches all of these ethereal numbers with a subtle sense of menace, carrying them either heavenwards or somewhere much further south, depending on what type mood you are in while listening.
There is a palpable tension and fresh urgency that persists throughout this entire record, which is rare for a young band to capture on their first go. After the moody, dreamlike drone of ‘Cast Into Seasons,’ the album bursts back into life with the bracing first single, ‘Amber Hands,’ a bristling, fast-burning number that has already gotten the rapt attention of the music world already. And for good reason, too, since the song is simply massive, and sounds even better if you’re driving fast, which is always a good litmus test for the durability of a track like this.
‘Summon The Sound’ takes the album towards a decidedly darker place, indulging in the group’s gloomy goth influences, while ‘Sentinal Bloom’ has elements of the druggy, psychedelic early sound of the Verve. S.C.U.M. display a bold tendency to switch up their sound confidently as the album progresses, brashly going from one genre (or era) to the next, all the while injecting the songs with their cheerless contemporary twists on the distinctive sonic legacy of their melancholy musical forebears.
The later half of the album has more of a relaxed, theatrical quality to it, as the atmospheric clatter of ‘Requiem’ ushers in a significant downshift in both tempo and tone. The gorgeous, piano-laden dirge of ‘Paris,’ continues that haunting, ambient theme, with ghostly, choir-like backing vocals augmenting Cohen’s subdued, sentimental lyrics. ‘Water’ serves as a transient segue between ‘Paris’ and the epic album closer (and new single), ‘Whitechapel,’ which is a slow-burning, celestial hymn that gloriously winds down the record.
The trancelike second half of Again Into Eyes signifies a distinctive shift in style and scope for the young, East London quartet, so it will be interesting to hear what direction they are planning to take their striking sound next. But what they have given us is an accomplished album full of entrancing, stellar songs that hopefully will do away with all the unnecessary ballyhoo that surrounds the band, leaving us all to focus solely on their music, as it should have been straight from the start.