With its vocal-heavy arrangement and its conspicuous soulfulness, “Get Some Scars” not only sounds like little you hear in the air in the 21st century’s second decade, it sounds like a protest against a musical age known more for its robotic technological frills and hype-oriented gimmickry than for passionate musical prowess. And let me quickly add that there are of course many independent musicians today who with equal passion and prowess stand in opposition to the horror of today’s auto-tuned top 40 and its pea-brained lyrical concerns. But what stands out here is the unabashed effort to make inclusive, crowd-friendly music. And what a relief it is to remember that inclusive, crowd-friendly music can at least sometimes, still, sound so easy and so affecting. “Get Some Scars” is big without being loud, simple without being insipid, smooth without being formulaic.
The secret to its success is, I think, its groove. This is a serious groove, but an elusive one.The bass more often sings and sustains rather than plucks in the funky style often associated with grooves. Percussion takes a backseat to vocal harmonies. This is it seems a groove created and fed by the swinging, swaying momentum of the melody, and driven home by the vocal layers, as emphatic as they are organic. (The band recruited an extra singer to help front man Stuart Rook with the four-part harmonies.) My ear keeps telling me that the melodic interval that repeats, both in the verse and the chorus, somehow feeds the groove—it’s a major third, four semitones apart, and heard most clearly at the start of the chorus (1:27), with the words, “Oh while we’re young,” each syllable bouncing the interval top to bottom and back again, and with great swing, and all those harmonies. And right here is where the otherwise slippery lyrics solidify into a true moment, words and music coalescing into something larger than either:
Oh while we’re young, yeah, let’s go out and get some scars
‘Cause when we’re older we wear them to tell us apart
Lux Lisbon is a five-piece band founded in Nottingham and now based in London. The band’s name is one of the sisters in the Jeffrey Eugenides novel The Virgin Suicides. “Get Some Scars” is their latest single, released last month. You can listen to their debut album, released in January, via Bandcamp. Thanks to the band for the MP3. And in case this relates to any of your schedules this weekend, Lux Lisbon will be playing at the Bestival on the Isle of Wight, on Sunday night.