Throughout their relatively short career thus far S.C.U.M have constantly been compared to The Horrors, largely due to both bands' deliberate image and fondness for Victoriana. However, comparisons are now valid musically too, as over the past twelve months the respective groups have found their own shoe-gazey niche ,stepping away from the image and into the subtleties of their sound. On debut album 'Again Into Eyes,' S.C.U.M use spiraling guitars sparingly, preferring instead beautifully executed synth parts which allow the five piece to create vast sweeping soundscapes. Throughout Thomas Cohen's breathy baritone vocal display is full of ominous and pensive anticipation, not unlike Brian Molko at his best, in a style which will not please everyone, but which fits perfectly with the music arrangements.
'Faith Unfolds' rises and falls delicately in a gentle synth laden introductory number demonstrating their ability to write a good hook without it being glaringly obvious. Single 'Amber Hands' (which is accompanied by an oh-so-arty Matthew Stone directed video) adopts more prominent guitar to powerful effect. The song is more anthemic but perhaps less experimental than the rest of the offering, providing a little mid-album relief amongst the gloom. Elsewhere, 'Sentinal Bloom' is a somewhat different proposition being more of a slow burner with no clear chorus but it ends in a wall of sound so all encompassing that even Phil Spector would acknowledge its potency.
The songs often feel sprawling but at under five minutes each (with the exception of the closing number) they never feel bloated or excessive. The band have already developed a bit of a pretentious reputation which, on record at least, seems largely unjustified. 'Water' is a little "difficult" making you feel somewhat excluded as a listener but on 'Paris' the self indulgence of the morose keys, temperate percussion and murmured lyrics are utterly engrossing.Closing number 'Whitechapel' is a real standout track. The haunting cello creates a feel a little more dreamy and tender than the rest of the album, while the almost disco beats which flits in and out of the track adds a touch of euphoria at the end of a fairly melancholic record. On first listen 'Again Into Arms' seems a difficult prospect, but given time the album reveals itself to be a new and welcome incarnation of post-punk which will surely have its fans.