The Scottish Enlightenment - Little Sleep EP
Chris Tapley 23/09/2010
This Scottish four piece may not seem a particularly unique proposition on the surface; mixing morose lyricism with elegantly noisy slowcore and dashes of baroque arrangements, but they seem to have found a sound niche which is unmistakeably their own. The band found a modicum of national success with their 2007 single 'Eyes' reaching national television and radio, but rather than try to capitalize on this The Scottish Enlightenment retreated for several years. Now, reinvigorated, they've re-emerged first with the exquisite Pascal EP in May and now with Little Sleep EP as a pre-cursor to November's debut full length album St Thomas. Which is really rather a lot of material for one year. So far though every single note has been gold and it would seem their downtime was incredibly well spent.
Title track 'Little Sleep' is the band at their noisiest, the creeping feedback and sense of dread offsets the defiant and yet peaceful lyrics in a kind of juxtaposition reminiscent of Codeine's Frigid Stars. The lyric “all we need is a little sleep and we'll be fine” is delivered with such empathy and resignation that it becomes far more poignant than it might seem on paper, especially settled amongst the throngs of noise. 'Get My Limousine' is David Moyes' pondering over his lack of fame given that he's learnt much of what's required “I'll write songs like Stephen Malkmus\cause I know he can't hold a note\ and he's done okay” or that he's learnt from Simon and Louie that “without fame you are nothing” and “talent's not the main thing” respectively. It manages to comes across like equal parts bemused frustration and biting satire whilst still boasting a thoroughly memorable hook.
It's the little touches that excel this record though, of course it has been done infinite times but the sound of band members clarifying notes with one another before the start of 'Drip Feed' is an example of the intimate atmosphere the band exude even when at their most expansive. The lush piano chords belie Moyes rather bleakly hopeful sentiments “there's everything you need here\ a chair and a drip feed\I swear you'll never be cold or scared/you'll never get back there”. 'When You Hate Me' is a lurid slowly swelling seven minute epic drenched in reverb and strangely calming melodies, drawing parallels to more shoegaze based influences such as Slowdive or a more languid Galaxie 500.
Whilst a lot of their time is spent being all brooding and slowcore they show a much lighter and even romantic side on final track 'St Germain is Thick Tonight'. Acoustic guitars and Moyes most tender vocals yet, yearning almost for something a world away from reality; “I will push you in every door and shadow I find so I can feel your lips and we can take forever\we're lost forever\St Germain is thick tonight”. Of course this is gradually enveloped by reels of feedback, and whilst it might seem that this is something of a stock trick for the band it always seems a natural move. The Scottish Enlightenment have already gathered quite some momentum on the back of these two EP releases, and if the album can maintain the same level of quality then I think they could quite rightly be considered Scotland's biggest musical success of 2010 and graduate to the indie big leagues.