Big Scary may not consider their second album “art” but it sounds like could be a film soundtrack. The duo from Melbourne proved inventive and versatile on their debut album, Vacation where they explored garage rock, dream pop and piano-driven ballads. A similar approach has been adopted here.
Not Art is a lush and mature record with pastoral, piano-led pop tunes and intricate ballads that are fused with staccato percussion and hip-hop samples. This was sparked by guitarist, Tom Iansek discovering hip-hop – and its production in particular – and he has applied this to the duo’s broader, pop palate with solid results.
‘Hello, My Name Is’ is a sprawling affair where Jo Symes’ drums crash to the post-rock melodies of Joy Division and some stream-of-conscious lyrics. Skitter-scatter drums also feature on ‘Luck Now’, perhaps the most obvious and interesting fusion of hip-hop and dub-step on this record save for Iansek’s rapping on ‘Invest’.
There is the fragile and vulnerable hymn, ‘Lay Me Down’ where Iansek’s falsetto vocals sound an awful lot like Jeff Buckley’s. It’s a solemn approach that screams “break-up” record and it is also utilised on the piano driven ‘Twin Rivers’. This tickling of the ivories provides an ornate styling that is reprised in ‘Final Thoughts With Tom & Jo’. It’s an obvious departure for the duo away from the guitar-based pop from previously, and when the mood is set to broody it does share a thing or two in common with the likes of The Cure and Radiohead.
Not Art doesn’t contain a single like ‘Gladiator’ nor are there any immediate party tunes like most of our other indie bands. Instead, the pair put in the hard yards with a layered affair and one where the listener must prepare for a slow-burning journey. They also lob in a number of different curveballs, meaning repeat listens are not only rewarding but should be mandatory. The feel is also rather cohesive even though the mood rises and falls with each fluid and melodic moment.
Big Scary’s latest album is a refreshing addition to their discography which sees the pair branch out, referencing everyone from Grizzly Bear and The Cure to Mumford & Sons and Kanye West. Not Art is an emotive and soft record where the group’s yearning and soul-searching sparks one long and productive journey through strange and eclectic new territory.
Originally published on 15 July 2013 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/36295/Big-Scary–Not-Art
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