[sic] Magazine

Scenius – Life Is A Thing

Scenius – Life Is A Thing

The second album.
The statement album.
The answer to the question, ‘Can they do it again?’

Who even are ‘they’? Well, it’s Anglo French synthpop duo, Scenius, comprising Steve Whitfield and Fab Nau. And the trick they are repeating on their second album, Life Is A Thing is to bowl us over, all over again. Debut album Enough Fears impressed me, coming, seemingly out of nowhere in 2020. With whiplash beats and hip swaying rhythms Scenius are putting the sin back into synthpop in ways I haven’t witnessed since Martin Gore moved in behind the wheel of Depeche Mode.

Enough Fears made my own personal Top 10 in 2020. Perhaps it will forever be associated with the pandemic? However the new release is coming out of its cage and doing just fine. With vaccinations ticked off and covid restrictions lifted, life is indeed a thing again. This album embraces a similar sense of optimism and relief mixed with slight trepidation to what we all felt post covid. There are hooks everywhere. The opening salvo, from ‘Life is A Thing Again’ through ‘A Million To Go’ to promotional single ‘High Low’, is a veritable ‘God run’ of catchy, accessible pieces. ‘A Million To Go’ emerges from an urban twilight reminiscent of The The before clicking into sparkly pop while ‘High Low’ itself seems almost a message to daft journalists like myself. What do we like? We like it all, baby!

Yet while the albums strong beginning will win hearts and minds, the rest certainly doesn’t let up. This records deep cuts will delight, vex and subvert listeners in equal measure. ‘Chinese Room’, which launches the second side is another earworm but in and around Scenius’ pop you’ll find plenty of slinky, seductive synth. ‘Escalation’ might easily have fallen off English Electric, ‘Hindsight’ is what an OMD collaboration with Moby might have sounded like and the sensational ‘Moon Fall’ really showcases Fabs sensitive vocal.

What’s notable is that Scenius haven’t done a repeat/ facsimile, cookie cut (wink) second album. This new piece of work is distinctly different. Both records go together but they also stand alone. Life Is A Thing feels a bit more comfortable in its own skin than Enough Fears. Everything seems slightly less unhinged. Yet that edge still remains. Scenius exhibit a dark beauty that takes them beyond the confines of post punk and darkwave. There’s no question these guys would have been on Mute records back in the day. I thought this just the other evening as I stood watching the aforementioned Depeche Mode, wishing that Scenius had been the support. They surely would have impressed a few more people than just me.

I’d say around 19,999 more.


Enough Fears