This Soft Life
I think I’ll like Scout better when they “sell out.” If Kurt Cobain had been able to accept the fact that, as Courtney Love once put it, “he chewed bubble-gum in his soul,” he’d be alive today. And I’m only half-kidding.
Singer, main songwriter and guitarist Ashen Keilyn’s voice is a bit of all right, like a prodigy nightingale, but it’s not enough to put the group over. I hate to encourage you to judge an album by its cover, but the back of Scout’s This Soft Life actually gives an oddly accurate picture of its sound. The trio — Keilyn, Brian Silverman and Nigel Rawles — are seen sitting in three stuffed chairs, all out of focus and blurry. And that’s what their music sounds like. All out of focus and blurry, full of potentially good sounds that never quite get there. Song settings are intimate but frivolous. Influences like New Order and other groups are audible, though I believe Scout is trying to do more than just emulate them.
The starter, “Unlimited Weekends” sounds as though it has ambitions to be the Cars’ hit the Bongos — which is a great idea in and of itself — at first, but doesn’t go all the way. “Just Between You And Me” is the Lennon rewrite through which all young songwriters must pass (it’s like some kind of a law). “No One Asked You” — which I imagine Scout’s fans and possibly the band itself may be thinking right now — is a candidate for the “soundtrack to the John Hughes movie that never was” compilation that one day I will put together. “Fly On The Window” sounds like variations on a classical theme in much the same way that the Beatles’ “Because,” is, though I may be projecting. But it sure made me think of “Für Elise.”
These songs are atmospheric and indefinite, hazy and secretive, and almost maddeningly non-revealing.