Scarling.
So Long, Scarecrow


4.5
superb

Review

by BlindWriting USER (7 Reviews)
June 30th, 2010 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: So Long, Scarecrow takes a single listen before it leaves its footprints in you, an enthralling, beaten beauty that is utterly unforgettable.

It would be lazy to dismiss Scarling. as a rehash of singer Jessicka Addams's former band Jack Off Jill, a usually dull goth-punk outfit that reeked of Marilyn Manson and was Riot Grrrl only in its largely female membership. But unlike Jack Off Jill, Scarling. is not the sound of retail fishnet stockings and Hot Topic lipstick, and thank god. The band got off to a decent start with Sweet Heart Dealer, a short album strong with ideas but meandering without a resolute identity. But all that So Long, Scarecrow takes is a single listen before it leaves its footprints in you, an enthralling, beaten beauty that is utterly unforgettable.

Whereas Sweet Heart Dealer tested a loose variety of genre possibilities----from bubble-gum deathrock to spacey guitar meddling----without ever quite feeling at home, 2005's So Long, Scarecrow has unified post-punk's many branches into a challenging, romantic whole. Listen carefully enough, and all your occasional favorite bands bleed through: sinister Joy Division, the knife-wielding fun and freedom of Bikini Kill, the urgency of Sonic Youth, the Cure's gothic candlelit despair, and, most importantly, the layered and ethereal textures of My Bloody Valentine. Not one important stylistic forefather goes unrecognized, and yet the album spawned never once feels tired or derivative. What Scarling. does so successfully is tap into the high-points of the past to pave the way for the genre's future. Listening to So Long, Scarecrow, you hear a band that has so mastered and personalized its influences that it is a real wonder none of its members came from any of the aforementioned bands (and while they are also just as humorless, there's something graceful about Scarling.'s morbid solemnity).

"Hello London" is as stunning an opener as any, a patient yet rousing farewell to their spotty musical pasts. Here, Scarling.'s newfound confidence is brandished with the dynamics of a band with personality to spare. Jessicka's relaxed tone sheds the screaming and is simply lovely, un-self-consciously tough, feminine without having to prove it with sugary antics and abrasive lyrics. Imperative to the group's sound is Christian Hejnal dense guitar power. A real magician with his instrument, Hejnal is comfortable playing both crushing metal chords and effects-driven ambience. At times the monochromatic sound is effective, at times not. Now that he has proclaimed his love of grand, gritty texture, he would be wise to explore the depths of timbre potential therein.

Still, Hejnal keeps the record cohesive. Throughout these thirteen songs, violence collides with the erotic. "(Northbound On) Cahuenga" is one of the high points, a moody, doom-obsessed slow-burner so evocative of its title location----a haunted Hollywood freeway----that you are instantly transported to the side of this dark, dangerous road, a helpless onlooker. Scarling. sing about Los Angeles in the same way that David Lynch films it: threatening, maze-like, simultaneously abusive and absorbing in its artificiality, the city's underbelly unconcealed, run amok like the ooze from a blister. By the end, all that Jessicka can do is moan as the madness of her lyrics' characters blooms into violence.

Faster, catchier songs like "City Noise", "Broken Record", and "We Are The Musicmakers" lend a modern energy to the album, their hooks immediate and inviting. "Stapled to the Mattress", another of their most addictive, exemplifies how the band works best when its elements are cohesive: Jessicka's heartfelt and atmospheric croon, the thick and textured distortion, the post-punk rhythm section. But they can only maintain the urgency for so long, and at 52 minutes, the album feels a little stretched. "In the Pretend World" and "Caribou and Cake" are pretty repetitive. Totally flat, surprisingly skippable, they should have been trimmed to favor hooks over competency and to bring the listener towards the album's quiet, reflective conclusion, the nighttime title-track, at a brisker pace.

That aside, my review remains as glowing as ever, and I must admit that I have been a drooling idiot for this album for years (this must be obvious, by now, careful readers). Not without reason, I hope. While other bands strive to imitate the vitality of their 80s ancestors, it is just that: imitation, a commemoration of post-punk production values entirely devoid of the riskiness of their predecessors' innovations. Sexual energy is key; a sexless band of this genre turns out like Beach House, while those who overcompensate end up more like Interpol----that is, gross, off-putting, and unrelatable. But Scarling have found the right balance, and So Long, Scarecrow is such a resounding success that I can only hope their next effort, which will hopefully bring a greater sense of experimentation in the wake of their newfound confidence, packs this much of a punch.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
June 30th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not a bad review, and a very good album.



Just a few grammar/code things - you should put the album title in italics [ i ] like this [ / i ] (without the spaces), and should also put the period at the end of the band name, as it is a part of it (a la Panic! At The Disco or Portugal. The Man).

Bitchfork
June 30th 2010


7584 Comments


Please don't use caps lock like THIS when emphasizing

[i][/i]
enter the text in between brackets.

BallsToTheWall
June 30th 2010


48093 Comments


Yeah decent review. I remember checking this band out at one point. Don't remember my opinion of it though.

Digging: Root - The Book

BlindWriting
July 1st 2010


102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, fixed the style tags.

AtavanHalen
July 1st 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Like I said before, I'd also put the full stop in and make it Scarling. instead of Scarling - y'know what I mean?

Willie
Moderator
March 15th 2011


17288 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Finally checked this out. It's cool. Like a noisier version of the Cranes.

Digging: Samael - Hegemony

ShadowRemains
October 2nd 2016


24786 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is lit, like a combo of the birthday massacre and MBV

should probably check out the two EPs too

hal1ax
June 21st 2017


8820 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i always forget how good this is

artiswar
June 21st 2017


1563 Comments


One of my favourite albums of all time. Missed the Jack Off Jill reunion but watched it on youtube and it was so emotional, especially Strawberry Gashes. I need more Jessicka in my life, I wish so much that she would make more music but she has major medical issues... This fuckin album though.... (Northbound On) Cahvenga, Broken Record, Hello London, and Stapled To The Mattress are personal faves. The Sweetheart Dealer album is excellent as well.

hal1ax
June 21st 2017


8820 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn i actually haven't heard sweet heart dealer. going to dload rn!

chinesewhispers
June 21st 2017


4719 Comments


Hello London deserves to be a shoegaze classic

artiswar
June 21st 2017


1563 Comments


holy crap you're in for a treat! Alexander The Burn Victim, Can't (Halloween Valentine) and Bandaid Covers The Bullet Hole are absolute classics. Just keep in mind that there are some screamed vocals on that album as a carryover from Jack Off Jill.

Also they have released a single here and there in recent years like Staring At The Sun and Who Wants To Die For Art.

hal1ax
June 21st 2017


8820 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea that's easily one of my favs

hal1ax
June 21st 2017


8820 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and yea i'm looking forward to hearing it man

artiswar
June 21st 2017


1563 Comments


Northbound is like the darkest dreariest shoegaze song of all time... god, it just feels like a raincloud is following you around and pouring on you and your limbs are tied down with anvils. So fucking dark you want to curl up in a ball



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