[sic] Magazine

Scarlet Youth – Breaking The Patterns EP

If you’ve been missing Shoegaze I’d venture to ask, what’s the weather like on Mars this time of year? Come on, there’s been plenty of ’gazin’ of late. Finland act Scarlet Youth are the latest pedal peddlers. Authentic ones too in the sense that theirs is a traditional rock set-up (with minimal keys). Not for these guys the electronica, Morr take on the genre. No, Scarlet Youth would have found themselves at home first time around circa 89-93 and I wonder what we might have made of them then?

Like most genres Shoegaze was never really one thing. It was an amorphous, self-serving tag that helped perpetuate a scene beyond its expected lifespan. At risk of sounding over-simplistic, many genres have two distinct halves. E.g. Punk, which quickly fragmented into its arty side and its ‘Oi’ side. Shoegaze also had similar divisions – if you like, the gritty side Vs the pretty side. The ‘pretty’ provided swirling, ethereal dreamscapes, typified by bands such as Slowdive. Scarlet Youth certainly fall into this category. The EP is peppered with Halstead-isms.

This is a six track offering but not one of those EP’s that feels like a mini album. Still an ‘extended play’ experience this. Half of the tracks are quite pastoral. The opener ‘Gleaming Endless Ocean’ twinkles gamely but can’t shake off comparisons to Slowdives Just For A Day album. ‘Tokyo Daydreamer’ is another exercise in blissful inertia. Clearly they appreciate Sofia Coppola movies (And to be fair, never really try to hide the fact). I suspect they wish they were Bill Murray Lost In Translation only with Scarlet Youth music soundtracking the emotive taxi ride instead of Shields. Ah well. Aim high. Why not? Perhaps the best example of languid Scarlet Youth is the trance-like ‘Before the surface breaks’ where something really interesting comes to (part) formation.

The EP overall lacks a bit of zip. I cry out for a little more urgency and eventually this is delivered on the outstanding closing track ‘Sunshine Girl’. Why hold this ‘til last I wonder? ‘Sunshine Girl’ needed to be somewhere up-front.

Despite its pretty gatefold and six track generosity, Breaking The Patterns is a showcase of limitations. In terms of ideas, style and track variety it isn’t really breaking patterns at all. What Scarlet Youth do, they do well. Let’s look to a full-length album for a real clue as to their potential.