Plenty can be said about first impressions. In the context of their musical careers, artists sink or swim based on the power and potential of their debuts. In the best scenario, a debut is the artist’s strongest, thanks to its unabashed creativity and ingenuity. In less successful situations, the debut becomes a measuring stick for whatever future the artist may have.
Upon the dawn of their maiden voyage into the recording industry’s turbulent waters, the members of London’s Scanners have carefully scrutinized the impression they’ll make. The band’s debut, Violence Is Golden, has a little bit of everything: a strong base of rock, a touch of electro swagger, some fashionable angst, a tender moment or two. My first thoughts were that this quartet seems like the 2006 version of Elastica. That comparison may seem too conspicuous due to the band members’ look, but a few of their keyboard-happy rock numbers make that statement credible.
The Scanners music is too good to be pushed aside as another band that sounds like Elastica, but the members fail to stretch much farther past the styles of their fellow countrymen Bloc Party and the Rakes. Tracks such as opener “Joy” or “Raw” typify Scanners’ sound: straight-forward pop rock with heavy emphasis on the keyboard hook and tough-girl attitudes brought by vocalist Sarah Daly’s rocker-chic persona. Violence Is Golden‘s dependency on riff-laden songwriting keeps the Scanners up to speed with its peers, but for what price? The production, although nothing overly original, allows enough space for a dance breakdown to mesh with Daly’s vocals and gives her room to glow at what she does best: lead the group with style and sass.
Violence Is Golden is a fine introduction from a group that knows how to write modern rock songs, and with it the members of Scanners have proved they are just as good as their contemporaries, such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Kills. But this compliance is their biggest downfall. Violence is Golden may make a strong first impression, but it lacks the impact set Scanners apart from all the other hipsters at the table.