Reviewed by Mark Plummer
Hailing from East Bay, California, The American Scene are an interesting blend of punk rock with a dark, indie pop sound. The result definitely sits out from the crowd and Safe For Now exploits enough variables to remain interesting through out. Whilst the first track, Just Say It, sounds like a Tom DeLonge crossover band, the vocals soon fall out of this initial shock and grow into themselves. By the time Blood Orange starts up there’s finally a sense that the band are grabbing hold of some originality and trying to make this scene their own.
There are not many decent groups kicking around in this scene, This Providence being one of the few that can make a claim to a solid release in 2009’s Who Are You Now?. So The American Scene have the perfect opportunity to claim something for themselves. Whilst debut albums can always be a bit hit or miss, Safe For Now seems to find itself somewhere in the middle, but leaning more towards hit.
Three tracks in and the need for a change in vibe is well recognised, Hungry Hands living up to what is a probably coincidental title. Feeding a need for a different direction, the upbeat work behind the drum kit helps to get this song home from the consistent work on the hi-hat in the verses to pumping it up over the rest of the kit for the chorus. Combined with the lead guitar, whose work jumps from octaves to double speed single notes through the finale of the chorus, gives this all the pace it needs to be a stand out, fast paced track. All killer.
The downside to Safe For Now is just how slow the next three tracks are, all the momentum that had been built up and engaged the listener is replaced with three songs that seem a bit lost for direction. For that reason, maybe this debut release would have been stronger as a seven track short album, rather than the ten tracks that have been coughed up.
Thankfully it’s not all bad news and Safe For Now picks itself back up to really deliver in the final four tracks after a momentary lapse in clarity. Their Untitled piece is another stand out, after some initial hesitation that this slower number could join the likes of the middle part of the album. But it’s Used To You that is the real album winner and cements the band in being capable of producing the goods. The soft start is unusual, given just how much the guitars play on being mostly treble and little bass. So it’s the semi-distorted, semi-clean work, that lasts through out the verses and into the chorus, which gives Used To You the soft feel whilst the drums pick up the pace. Whilst sitting maybe a little too far back in the mix, the drums do their job and don’t over power the track.
Yes, this release loses a bit of focus in the middle, but crucially it picks itself back up and finishes with a flourish. It’s this flourish that is vital to leaving people remembering both the positives in not only the album, but the potential in The American Scene as a band. If this is what they can do on a debut release, there should be a lot to look forward to.
4 out of 5