Prejudice? In some quarters even mentioning the words 'Scouting' 'For' and 'Girls' in the same breath can result in an immediate and sustained campaign by total strangers to out you as a complete nobber. There are places where copies of the trio's eponymous debut album are regularly burned. It's also said that hipsters, mindful of the permanent damage endorsement by mere association could have on their reputation have been known to cross the street rather than face up to the North London trio in the flesh. Fact or fiction? You decide...
All this misplaced critical scorn for Scouting For Girls' work is, of course, almost inversely proportionate to the amount of records they've sold, popular culture having no taste or conscience and all that. So when the band's third album arrived, as is customary we trotted out the earplugs and then drafted a piece which neatly linked Roy Stride, Roy Wood and Roy Castle together, before decrying their ridiculously named fan club, then deconstructed The Light Between Us as music without an audience. And then someone randomly passing by suggested that we actually played it.
Radical. Free thinking. Innovative. We decided we liked that. So here's the skinny having listened to it. More than once...
Evil music journalist bit first:
There are two hand-gnawingly awful bits on The Light Between Us and a face slappingly terrible, should-be-a-law-against-it one respectively. Of the former, the blokeish, Nuts reading 'Banter' of the lyrics to Summer Time In The City seem to have fallen accidentally out of a cider advert, whilst surely no-one after reaching puberty would be heard uttering the words 'Play me like an X-box' as Stride utters several times during Snakes and Ladders. Where things are really, really bad, however, the trio underlines what every moustachioed hater has ever uttered about them; closer Make This One Last is a syrup-laden ballad under which almost no clich' rock isn't peaked under; a gloopy musical equivalent to eating three Mars ice creams in a row.
Putting our cred tinted spectacles to one side however, not everything here should be atomised until all that's left is its chemical signature. In fact, using the kind of language you expect the boys to deal in, there are a couple of belters that demonstrate what's possible when SFG pass by the door marked cheese. On Downtempo we not only gain some respite from Stride's constant love life fails by swapping getting ditched (Again) for some good old fashioned life affirmation in a Keane stylee, but for the first time here there's some energy, passion even. This sense of the band actually caring spills over into Rocky Balboa, and, although it's about as subtle as its iconic namesake, at least it's pop designed to be sung in fun pubs rather than floating about in the background at the Conservative party conference. Put simply, it's the work of a band who've temporarily grown a pair.
The rest of The Light Between Us veers between ok and the skip button. You still won't tell anyone you like them, but after about another three or four albums, SFG will have enough material to assemble a truly perfect record. Now, where was that Palma Violets single?
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