The range of colors on Little Scout’s musical palette is extensive, and this is certainly on show with their second album Are You Life, which is to be released this week.
It can be difficult when working within the realm of ‘dream pop’ to find the balance between the two words. The term ‘dream’ itself, when used in reference to music, reminds me of times in the past when unkempt musos have slipped me USB’s filled with the latest in local psychedelia; long, self-indulgent tracks lacking in structure and sodden with reverb. Are You Life, however, is anything but self-indulgent. Little Scout masterfully fuses potent pop hooks with a Jeff Buckley brand of ethereality in such a way that will satisfy, whether you’re just after a good tune or whether you’re looking for some kind of far-out sonic experience.
Little Scout don’t waste any time on insubstantial introductory pieces. The title track Are You Life instantly grabs my eardrum and thumps it with a kick pedal a few times before releasing it to float around in a spacey arpeggiated daze. Movement between these sensations are what characterize the song, and it ends with a particularly haunting combination of the two.
Next comes March Over To Me, the first of the singles from the album. It is definitely the biggest sound to be heard coming from Little Scout thus far in their career. It’s a throbbing wall of harmony, one of those songs that would really work best in a large venue, with a few thousand fists extended above a few thousand heads.
The following Flash In A Pan has a somewhat ‘80s vibe to it in places; those big drums, that bright synth sound. The repeated lines ‘Give me back my time’ and ‘I’m not coming back’ further give the sense that the song is reaching into the past. The harmonized vocals in the chorus really grab me; the voices of both Tickle sisters dip and jump in fluid movements, giving my body the physical urge to move in the same way.
Go Quietly is the second single from the album, and for me it is the highlight. The melody has a rather mischievous feel to it; it took Melissa Tickle about 15 seconds to wrap me tightly around her little finger, and I was stuck there until the song ended. I didn’t want to be released anyway.
I feel that We Used To Know would be a good song to listen to whilst driving along a deserted freeway late at night. Apart from a cheery break in the middle, the tune thunders along with an almost constant sense of disconcertion; like when your tired eyes cause things to jump out at you from the side of the road.
The next two tracks Ten Taxis and Heard It All Before induce that familiar feeling of summer nostalgia, but this is abruptly quashed by the mournful Day, which combines darkness and resilience in a way that is typical of a Nick Cave ballad.
The gradual crescendo in Take It Back seems to be building towards a climactic ending to the album, but instead, the final tune Don’t Teach Me To Sing provides a lonely voice, singing above a warm, leisurely guitar seasoned with a pinch of vibrato. The song gives the sense that the members of Little Scout themselves are a bit bummed to hear the record coming to a close. ‘Don’t teach me to sing, I have my own voice, it isn’t bad all of the time’, the singer pleads. Little Scout certainly does have its own voice, and there isn’t a single moment in the 34 minutes of Are You Life that isn’t a pleasure to listen to.
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::: Renowned For Sound Music Reviews ::: Ben is a 21-year-old student whose taste in music consists of tunes that make him see things. Music for him is a very visual experience; a song has succeeded when it transports the listener somewhere. This is a quality Ben hopes to articulate in writing music reviews for RenownedForSound.com.
Ben capped off his school days at a Sydney high school catering specifically for the musically inclined, but now must balance his musical cravings with university study. To satisfy these cravings, Ben has played guitar in a few groups of differing styles but is often most contented just tinkering with the blues.