THE SCARAMANGER SIX – ‘Phantom Head’

scaramanger sixTHE SCARAMANGER SIX – ‘Phantom Head’
Let me start by saying this isn’t a bad album.  It isn’t.  So what’s my problem?  This may sound ridiculous but like the small pieces of mouse shit on your ribeye steak, there are a one or two little avoidable niggles that it if not present, would have allowed you to focus on what makes an album really tasty.  But let us focus on the good for now.  It starts confidently enough, with some effective and uncomplicated guitar work alongside vocals that blend opaque storytelling with powerful musical hooks.  There’s enough variation on show here to suggest Phantom Head could have real longevity.  But my first issue may seem a touch pedantic, but there’s something quite….amateurish about the vocal production.  It feels as if the vocal tracks are far too front and centre; sitting on top of the instruments rather than being part of the music itself, often ending up sounding like they’ve been recorded in someone’s bedroom.  This creates the unfortunate situation of not only drawing focus away from the, at times excellent instrumental component, but it also accentuates a weakness to the vocals which is probably more of a symptom of poor production than execution.  Now according to their website some of these tracks were recorded with the mighty Steve Albini, who is never afraid to exert slightly off-centre influence on recordings.  But this feels like it misses the mark.  Like Albini, Scaramanga Six pride themselves on being fiercely independent and perhaps this could be part of the charm I’m missing and if that is the case, then i guess everyone is happy.  On top of this, the interesting almost whimsical lyrical content delivery can wander perilously close to being slightly farcical; almost like Franz Ferdinand dicking about while they wait for the sound engineer to sort the vocal levels out.  Some people will like this theatrical delivery,  some people are welcome to it.  (6)
CHRIS BIDAD

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