Someone high up in the music industry must have forgotten the memo to Scary People that they are yet to face the awful tribulation of completing “That Difficult Second Album”. Their new single Guided By The Blind, unleashed on 28th July, shows a confidence and distinction that demonstrates the meteoric progress they’ve made in the space of less than a year, and two EPs.
The Dundee group’s debut release Smoke came in September 2013. In these early days they come across as somewhat generic at times – if you were to turn the radio on partway through opening track Smokescreen, it might take several seconds to recognise the band. It’s good head-bobbing fare nonetheless, and the overlay of synthesised effects and crooning backing vocals add flavour to the solid rock beat. Dreams of Gold, while starting in a similar vein to the previous song, descends into chaotic, overlapping lyrical reverbs as it approaches its frenzied climax. Third and final piece I Don’t See The Light rises noticeably in tempo and pitch – a little closer to indie than straight rock, it zips along with fewer plosive moments, the emphasis more on cymbal riffs than on whacking snares.
Flash forward a mere seven months to April of this year, and their follow-up Chicago! appears. A far cry from Broadway, the title piece thumps and grinds along with a powerful musical engine at its core, as the drums rumble happily beneath. Second and fourth tracks Giving Up Guns and Crush The Bug are not as memorable, with less perceptible development throughout, albeit they remain perfectly adequate rock songs. However, in between, (It’s Never Calm On The) Western Front captures you with a strong Arctic Monkeys-like guitar refrain from the off, and the structure of repeated crescendos gives equal credence to both vocal and instrumental parts, a feature that is perhaps not so balanced in other material.
Three months after this, we come to their latest single, and it’s a world apart from the music that precedes it. Guided By The Blind opens with a guitar riff more in the style of T-Rex than a contemporary indie band, while the lead singer’s full-bodied sputter has softened into a sullen, understated drone with more than a hint of Ian Curtis about it. As the song reaches the chorus it grows in stature, the rock element returning with a vengeance in walls of sound akin to Feeder or Weezer. This track possesses a far more distinctive style than prior releases, and better still, each part has more room to breathe and to show each member’s abilities to the fullest in turn.
Growing ever more accomplished with each new piece unveiled, not to mention performances at T In The Park and Wickerman Festival, a third EP from this group, or even a full-length album if they dare, may just be the record that launches them to the big time.