The London-based foursome Scanners make a kind of music once all too common and now all too rare: smartly-produced, aurally interesting, musically astute rock’n’roll. This is music that isn’t trying to be fancy, or arcane, or difficult; and yet neither is it simple-minded in sound or concept. Now, I said that this sort of smartly produced (etc.) rock used to be pretty common, which leaves us with the interesting reality that we are not, in 2009, used to hearing music like this in songs that we don’t already know. (Such a dispiriting genre, “classic rock”–sealed off by definition from the living, breathing world.) Kind of an odd truth, and one which makes a song like “Salvation” all the more appealing.
I like, right at the start, how the song offers depth and drama with such sparse instrumentation: until 55 seconds in, we hear precious little but an itchy acoustic guitar lick and some distant chimes, joined for a bit by a quiet keyboard motif. The atmosphere is fostered by the minor key melody and those resonant backing vocals, which are echoey and mixed in such a way as to sound as if the voices were shouting but the volume was turned way down. It’s a foreboding effect. Keep an ear on the harmonies throughout–they remain central, and get increasingly interesting. And for all the sonic theatrics, discipline rules the day. You don’t hear too many rockers that will dial back halfway into a song (1:19) so that you can only hear, for three seconds, one repeated note on an acoustic guitar.
“Salvation” is from the band’s forthcoming album, Submarine, scheduled for a February release on Dim Mak Records. The band was previously featured here in Aug ’06, around the time of the first album, Violence is Golden. MP3 via Better Propaganda.