Review submitted by guest contributor Philip Lickley. If you would like to write for All-Noise, send your reviews or articles to [email protected]
Scouting For Girls – The Light Between Us
Buy: The Light Between Us
Time clearly flies as we hit the third album from pop boys Scouting For Girls, the enigmatically titled ‘The Light Between Us’, an 11-track album that is as poppy, well-produced and enjoyable as you’d expect from the band even if it doesn’t perhaps have the bigger radio-friendly numbers of their past two long players to thrust into the public domain.
It is an unusual album in style and lyrical content, often appearing much more adult and credible than we’ve heard them in the past, though the very first lyric of ‘I Want You Back Naked’, sounding more like ‘Butt Naked’ on the record, does start it off on a weird and immature tangent. Opening number ‘Without You’ is a relatively strong start to the album with a One Republic-esque sound whilst also retaining their pop sensibilities and, aside from the obsession with nakedness which jars with the overall style of the song, is a more mature set of lyrics and music, with one of their strongest piano riffs that, for a change, doesn’t sound like every other piano riff that they’ve ever done.
Lead single and track two ‘Summertime in the City’ is a bit of an aural black sheep with inspirations pulled from the world of rap-like delivery and the Alicia Keys song ‘Empire State of Mind’ for its piano riff. Initially a song I really disliked due to its awkward comedy-style, it is a grower and the hooks become more obvious after a few listens and captures their less serious side.
Third track is a little bit of a cash-in as they re-purpose the bonus track from the deluxe edition of their second album and thrust it onto the album. I’m not going to complain about the inclusion of the track – ‘Love How It Hurts’ is one of their strongest releases – but it does seem to be a cheeky way of bolstering the album with a familiar song. The tune is a strong ballad about lost love that reflects a much stronger focus on lyrics than their debut album all those years ago.
‘Downtempo’, which follows, is anything but the suggestion of the title with some great drum work, speedy vocals and pop emphasis and is a contender for a single. ‘Snakes and Ladders’ echoes back to their one-size-fits-all piano riff and continues the trend set by Electric Six and Cee-Lo Green to segway an X-Box reference into the lyrics sheet. It may stretch some gaming metaphors to breaking point but the use of rhyming and balance of elements make this an appealing ballad at the half way point.
‘Six Degrees’ once more showcases the band’s more musically interesting focus of the album with a strong drum line and some neat vocal effects but it’s track seven ‘Rains In L.A.’ which boosts the album up again and is a sure-fire second single. Perky, uptempo and poppy with a driving piano-riff and a repetitive, but memorable, chorus, this is more like the SFG of old with nods back to the eighties.
‘Rocky Balboa’ is equally strong, and a much darker direction in style for the band. Multi-layered and metaphor-riddled again, it sounds like Professor Green if he spent more time singing than rapping.
‘Somebody New’ is perhaps less impressive but it’s an enjoyable enough continuation of the album with some neat call and response vocals, and it’s segway into the title track, an acapella number which rounds up the album themes and showcases the more mature-focus, works well, even if the lyrics do thrust more metaphors out of the speakers, this time on the subject of trains.
‘The Light Between Us’ closes on ‘Make This One Last’, a smooth ballad that ties things up nicely.
SFG’s third album, as a whole, is a strong follow-up well worth the wait. It doesn’t have the stand out singles of the earlier albums but is more cohesive as a whole. There are the odd misfires from a lyrical standpoint with too many forced metaphors and more mature elements that jar with much more juvenile lyrical choices, but if you are a fan of piano-led pop-snippets then there’s much to enjoy here, supported by the emotive ‘Love How It Hurts’, even if it has cynically been dragged out of bonus track status from two-years ago; the catchy ‘Rains In L.A.’; and the fast-delivered ‘Summertime In The City’.