Scarlet Soho - Divisions of Decency (Human Recordings)
By Steve Rudd
I'm genuinely glad that Scarlet Soho: have released of album of such breathtaking grandeur.
For the past few years, this Hampshire-based band has built up something of a cult
underground following following on from their UK-roving gigs and fantastic music.
So far, their single releases have included the fabulously produced Disconnected
anthem that brightened up the darkest days of 2002, before this year's Isolation
brought the SS sound up to speed prior to the release of this debut album... a
10-track, 37-minute wonder.
One of the most immediately noticeable things about their live band set-up is the fact
that Scarlet Soho: don't have a drummer.
Much of their music revolves around deft programming that produces the drum beats to
which mainman Jim Knights plays guitar and sings.
Scarlet plays bass, whilst both Jim and Scarlet play keyboards and set up the
aforementioned programming that is so essential to their sound.
Until recently there was also another guitarist embroiled in the SS fold, but
Lee Kinrade is no longer a member.
But what the hell, for Jim and Scarlet are coping fantastically well as a duo.
As for this album, Divisions of Decency is one of the most exciting releases of 2004,
if not the 20th Century full stop.
One wonders how the hell the likes of Franz Ferdinand have risen to such prominence
when bands such as SS remain relatively unknown, especially when SS songs are
far, far, far, far, far catchier and more exhilarating than anything the FF boys have so far produced.
Just imagine the funk-a-thonic, groove-tastic, soul-slamming scope of music that
would result if all the stronghold musical elements of Duran Duran, Ultravox, Placebo
and Gary Numan were whimsically mixed and mashed, and you might come fleetingly
close to the sound of Scarlet Soho:, as the short-but-great opening instrumental
track Abstract Composition beats up We Must Destroy.
Their Modern Radio is a wickedly upbeat blast of meticulously moody pop rock that
positively heaves with Ultravox-inspired programming, before the breakneck beats of
Skin Trade are bought out by a strong sense of Gothic romance courtesy of Jim's
exquisitely styled vocals.
Melancholic masterpiece Procreation is one of the albums' most subdued numbers
but no less enthralling in nature, before SS vault back into a catchier stride
with their Reveal tune.
Still, it's the final three songs that are by far and away the most amazing
tracks on offer here, as the astonishing and frankly awe-inspiring triple-header
in Disconnected, Isolation and City Behaviour presents a strong case for such
songs being some of the best pop songs of all time. No joke.
Having worked with Delays producer Justin Callaway, this SS enterprise has done itself proud.
Their Electro-orientated pop-rock sound is so refreshing that you will be quite excused
for putting this album on repeat-play for years at a time.
It's certainly not your fault that they are so good... 5/5
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