Oulu, Finland is not exactly a location that springs to mind when you think of the places bands usually originate from, one thinks of LA or London or NY. However, The Scenes might just turn all those preconceived assumptions on their ear with the release of their second album, “Beige”. This indie, punk experimental band, does not sound like a band barely out of their teens. Theirs is a sound best described as neurotic bursts of sonic noise, serene then suddenly bursting out making you fear someone or something might get hurt. They have been likening to the Sex Pistols playing Eric Satie.
The sextet includes Konsta Koivisto on vocals, Miki Liukkonen, guitar, Atte Lopenen, guitar, Joni Seppanen, keyboards and sax, Matlas Haataja on Bass, and Olli Vimpari on drums. Granted they are not exactly names that roll off the tongue, but after you get a listen to the music you won’t care, like ear crack you will just want more. Two members of the band have other occupations; Koivisto is a sculptor and artist, and Liukkonen a successful author and poet. Not surprisingly the band draws their inspiration from films, paintings, novels and poetry.
The band has stated that “We want to make music that makes you think ”Wow” that is something I haven’t heard before, this is something new.” Liukkonen stated that “He finds reiteration and habit are the worst enemies an artist can have.” They seem to be young men with cultured old souls. Their music is definitely illuminated by punk and progressive rock influences. The band has done some extensive gigging in the UK, with plans to tour in the fall supporting” The Specials”. Their eclectic music plus their engaging showmanship lends to an interesting performance. The tracks from this album add to their sonic arsenal.
The opening of “Hunters” reminds me of Thom Yorke’s “The Clocks”, off of “The Eraser”. “Hunters” features a phenomenal driving bass line and frenetic musical vibe. A major asset for the band is their lead singer who delivers a great vocal. The next song ‘Beige” is an instrumental, an uncommon track choice for a novice band. It is up to the listener to decide if it is a foolish or brilliant move. I find it is a nice interlude akin to Foals “Holy Fire” where “Prelude” was a lead in to “Inhaler”.
“Beige” leads you right into the song” Disagreement”, beginning with a nice melody. A very radio friendly song if there was any discernment remaining in the radio programming dept. The track has this atmospheric reverb laden sound that bores into your brain. The driving drum added to the apt guitar work makes this a notable song.
With the drone of guitars the masterpiece of the album takes off. “City of White Blankets” and leaves me almost speechless. It is a breathtaking song which is a perfect merging of heavy grunge, Emo and punk. The vocal performance is flawlessly matched to the atmosphere of the song. It takes one listen and you will hit repeat a few times to take in the wonder of this song. It is 4:39 minutes of bliss. There is the Morrissey croon, The Cure’s droning guitar and toss in some Alice In Chains and Cult, mix this up with what ever these lads got cooking and this song is just taking it to another level. Did I mention it is my favorite of the disc?
The following track “Perpetual Sunburst” mellows things out for a bit, a slower piano ballad, which is a nice change up and show the range this band possesses. “Sunburst” shows off Konsta Koivisto’s vocal skills. The lad’s got pipes. There are also these really cool snippets of dialog, the one sounds like the actor Jack Lemmon, but I can’t place the movie.
Acoustic guitar begins the next song "Purple” with a simple intro that breaks into a chiming guitar chorus. The song then transcends into this explosion of sound. It is a big impressive song that drags you into its soundscape. The song, "For it is a World Where Love and Confusion Reign”. The band seems to take a page out of The Smiths/Morrissey and Manic Street Preachers titling book. There is great use of soft, loud soft, technique, but it doesn’t sound hackney, it sounds fresh and new. The oblique song structure and contorted lyrics combine to make something pretty spectacular.
“Anorexia is Boring” is the lead single from the album, and the title will probably draw a lot of controversy. The song itself points out the folly of popular culture and it’s obsession with perfection to the point of starving one’s self to meet the ridiculous expectations of passing fashion. Koivisto’s falsetto sets off the song with a single guitar, the band joins in taking the song to the chorus. Urgency, anger and pain channel through the music making for a very powerful song.
“Mythopoesis” meaning” The Making of Myths” in Greek, the song has this mythic feel, Koivisto’s voice is an ethereal lulling over the top of the song. The sound is trippy, then changes gears with a continuous repetition of the chorus in a mantra until bursting into sonic fireworks, like art rock in the 70s. The disc wraps up with the melancholy “King for A Day”, a ballad where the vocal takes center stage, a haunting horn section repeats a forlorn echo that draws the album to an end.
This album does not sound like a band at the start of their career. There is no muddling about, which can happen so often with a novice band. They have taken some pretty big risks on this disc, but those risks pay off. A very exciting recording that grabs you with the first listen and demands you acknowledge its excellence. The band shows an enviable ability to move with agility between melancholy ballads to hard rocking songs.
You need to listen to this album; this is a promising band that should be going places if there is any justice left in the music world. A Phenomenal second album that is anything but beige.
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