Ian’s cries from the front row during Southsea Fest forced a wry smile to cross Murray MacLeod’s face. Perhaps it was in recognition? I think so. There was no hate in Mr Critchley’s words, he was merely making a point. One that I agree with – this band have quite a bit in common with Reuben. They’ve brought a bit of the Surrey-based outfit’s post-hardcore style back, but in a more accessible way. I like it, I like it a lot.
If I was to describe Scatterbrain in one word, it would be “powerful”. Each track on the album has a great passion behind it. It’s easy to see that this record means a lot to the guys and that’s important to me. When you get bands making albums for reasons other than they really want to, you don’t get the same effect. It just doesn’t come across right. Now I’ve mentioned “post-hardcore” and “powerful” and I can tell what you might be thinking. No, this isn’t an album full of screaming and heavy distortion. In fact, it’s the opposite to that. It’s emotionally powerful and that’s been captured perfectly by, producer, Mike Sapone.
For a band so early into their career it’s odd to see such a difference between their debut and this album. In The Cold Wind We Smile hits the listener immediately, whereas Scatterbrain builds and flourishes into a great album. It’s a real grower. It might not hit you on first listen, but give it time and you’ll be singing it’s praises. It’s packed with subtleties that you don’t often find in a record like this. Little things that make tracks like ‘Gum’ so brilliant.
Those looking for the ‘hardcore’ experience (and wonder where the Reuben comparisons are coming from) will find that in tracks like ‘Hurt With Me’ and the aforementioned amongst others. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an identical experience to a Reuben record. There’s nothing on the scale of something like ‘Our Song’ in terms of screaming. The two bands just share similar qualities. Ones that help the band and this album appeal to a wider group of people. I won’t be surprised when the hardcore kids are listening to this whilst tracks like ‘Young (Belane)’ can be heard coming from the UK’s indie-rock clubs and ‘Hurt With Me’ is being played on Radio 1. There’s a lot to love here and it’s rare that a band has the potential for such wide appeal.
I’m giving The Xcerts a lot to live up to, but they deserve such comparisons and praise. Scatterbrain is a real tour de force of an album. One that show’s the bands range of sounds, that they’re in no way a throwback to a forgotten scene. The guys have really pulled it out here and have become one of my favorite UK bands with this record. If you haven’t heard this, you need to.