Scarlet Soho - Delusions Of Decency
Bill Cummings 27/12/2004
Electro clash, a few years ago it was set to be the big new genre in music the NME was salivating over Fischerspooner's "Emerge" and they claimed that the new scene was about to spark into life in a way not seen since the 80's Romo scene. Cut forward three years and electro clash sound is still stuck on the operating table, there are signs of life though witness the success of the scissor sister's although not my favourite group they started off as part of this scene before exploding nationally with their brand of 70's pop/rock/glam, elsewhere The Faint dubbed the "evil Duran Duran" are tearing up the smaller venues of the UK and US and have released two albums of enormous quality.
Now step forward Scarlet Soho: Jim Knight(lead singer/guitarist) and Scarlet(keyboards) have spent time concocting the right medicine, a sound that links emotion with machine and synth with guitars. It's sound that will revive the electro beast and inspire this underground scene over ground. Despite losing Lee their guitarist half way through the recordings of this their debut, the Soho have regrouped and produced an album of unique quality. The Opener's instrumental synth sounds like the opening beats of the Eurhythmics' Sweet Dreams but bastardises it into something new. Bursting into your face is "We must destroy", a beastly mix of sleaze rock and pomp and it's quite simply brilliant!
Second track "Modern radio" is similarly brilliant, echoing Duran Duran's "Girls on film," it has a brilliant stop start electro sound, backed up by Scarlet's forceful keys and Jim's excellent melodic delivery, the "ohh ohh's!" adding extra drama to the main chorus when they are delivered to your ears. Modern radio is a track that puts the Soho up there with The Faint in their expert delivery of the 80's style ice-cold electro clash sound.
On “The Skin Trade" Jim Knight sounds like Simon Le Bon and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode as he ejaculates a kick ass clinical piece of glam synth pop. Lyrically the track conjures up images of sex, clinics and disappointment as Jim puts across his lines with a sublime camp departure "Then they wanna work with you /Till the day you die/ In the Skin Trade My dreams came tumbling down!"
Elsewhere Procreation: Self Abuse is a tender buzzing guitar hymn to failure and pain as Jim paints himself as a Christ like figure "Nail my hands to the wall" and his desperately weary voice bemoans: "All the broken homes for all the broken bones" and his own self abuse.
Reveal is a rather disappointing Depeche Mode bside soundalike, while "Programmed to Perfection" is great, high-camp vocals are backed by the dirt ridden sound of NIN. Finishing with the album's two singles: the immense power of "Disconnected" with its Mansun-esque dynamics, and "Isolation" one of my singles of the year and an ice cold electro indie classic.
My only gripe with this album is the ending “City Behaviour” is a good enough electronic glam stomp that sounds like the Pet Shop Boys grinding up against New Order in some greasy London club but it doesn't have the feel of an epic closer that, say, another Soho track "No Encore" would have had. Overall a brilliant album, that deals with the twin themes of disaffection and emptiness in a modern world to the sound track of the finest electro indie. Make way! Scarlet Soho are delivering electro shock treatment to the comatose corpse of electro clash!