[sic] Magazine

Scenius – Enough Fears

Scenius – Enough Fears

“Scenius is … genius only embedded in a scene rather than in genes”
Brian Eno

Back in February of this year, when the western world remained trenchantly dismissive of a certain little virus in China, the [sic] office experienced an outbreak all of its own. Scenius fever. Arriving, seemingly out of nowhere, the electro duo knocked on our door, dropped ‘Glass Rain’ into our laps and then ran away giggling, knowing they had us. We don’t typically feature singles here but Scenius decided to release four across the spring/summer period in the run up to this album. One such, ‘Wild And Wooly’ (included on this album) evoked memories of Mute Records and the early Futurist movement. Feverish excitement ensued.

Scenius is comprised of UK producer Steve Whitfield (The Cure, The Mission, Yann Tiersen…) and French singer Fabrice Nau. Their music is an irresistible blend of old school and modern day synthpop. Whether classic or contemporary their references are well chosen. Just the mere mention of Mute will usually conjure Depeche Mode but actually ‘Wild And Wooly’ put us more in mind of that labels founder, The Normal. At other moments they’ll approach kinetic experimentalism of Cabaret Voltaire, the melodic grandeur of OMD/Ultravox and the motoric propulsion of the daddies of them all, Kraftwerk.

Enough Fears is front-loaded with brilliance. Grinding opening track ‘Make It Shiny would’ get even the Goths up dancing. ‘Some Of Your Nights’ continues this dark disco vibe, all whiplash beats and sensuous rhythms. LCD Soundsystem would sell his own Grandmother for material this good. Yet the quality continues unabated. The sequence of ‘Less Than Dreams’, ‘Enough Fears’ and ‘Held’ would have lit up any of the OMD comeback albums. The title track alone is so McCluskey it could probably manage a Girl Band in its spare time. However, with synthpop there’s always a fine line between the essential and the ephemeral. Bland catchiness isn’t enough. You need heart and soul. Scenius understand this and their debut album is the perfect synthesis of man and machine. However this duo invert listener expectations. The classic recipe for success throughout synthpops golden era was to combine the synthesisers futuristic keys and beats with an emotive torch singer. (think Soft Cell, Yazoo etc). However, in Scenius’ world, the technology is often throwing the craziest of shapes whilst it is Fabrice Nau’s, impassive vocals that sounds most like the automation.

More human than human?

Yes they’re cool, yes they’re clever but the bottom line is that Enough Fears is a great listen, simply, and one that demands replays. Don’t I know it. It seems I have both Covid-19 and Scenius to thank for finally understanding the expression ‘cutting a rug’. Enough Fears has been a splendid accompaniment to lockdown but I have destroyed my living room carpet listening to ‘Cookie Cutter’ on repeat. Thanks Scenius. You’ll be in the end of year lists, no question but you owe me a rug.

Enough Fears is released Dec 4th via the Bandcamp link plus other digital platforms.


Wild & Wooly