For the critic, like a 90-year-old spinster in an asbestos-walled council flat in Glasgow, time is not on your side. Preconceptions are entirely unavoidable. Assuming your first impression is accurate and valid enough to form the basis of the opinion you shall foist on the world is taken as a right, a necessary evil to satisfying the temporal pressures on the production of your musings.
For S.C.U.M, this is as a problem. Given they are young, literary (the name is borrowed from radical American feminist Valerie Solanas’ manifesto), from East London, related to people in other bands (bassist Huw Webb is Rhys from The Horrors‘ brother) AND dating a Geldof (Pixie, in case some of you were wondering what Bob was up to) the temptation for immediate dismissal is almost overpowering.
To some, given that list of crimes, the decision will be whether to report them to the UN or not, rather than shall-I-shan’t-I-listen. Which is a bit unfair. Because when you give Again Into Eyes a go, you find it’s a lot less easy to dismiss than you might imagine.
Actually, it’s good. It’s occasionally very good. It’s elegant and atmospheric, constructed smartly and more than capable of sustaining interest for the sub 40 minute running time. Plus it doesn’t ever descend into flouncy-sleeved melodrama. Most importantly, it makes a big entrance. The two opening tracks, Faith Unfolds and Days Untrue, unfurl an epic and grandiose set of key ingredients. Swirling synths, portentous vocals and wall-of-sound production.
While that might sound a little like Again Into Eyes has been dramatically shaped by Sunday dinners at the Webb household, as Rhys goes on and on and on about Spaceman 3, The Psychedelic Furs and My Bloody Valentine, there’s no doubt that S.C.U.M do it well.
But what’s especially nice is there are moments on Again Into Eyes that genuinely take you by surprise. Amber Hands has an unexpectedly grinding thrust and drive, more The Stooges than Simple Minds, and Paris is exactly what you thought a modern-day remake of Whiter Shade Of Pale might sound like. (Actually, that one does descend a little into flouncy-sleeved melodrama.)
Regardless, it would be a shame if S.C.U.M cannot escape from the oppressive prison that preconceptions have built, because Again Into Eyes is worthy than a better fate than that. Honestly. It’s well worth a try.