Add and Subtract (out August 24th on Devilduck Records) is Scams’ follow up to their 2010 debut Rewrite Fiction which unfortunately received little attention. The album was recorded earlier this year at Cloud Hill Recordings in Hamburg and mixed by Matt Wignall (Cold War Kids) in LA. The first single Pyramids (free download) was released on July 19th.
With only Andy Morgan (vocals, guitary, keyboards) remaining of the original line-up, Scams now consist of Andy, Jamie MacNeal (guitar), Adam Fenwick (bass) and Chris Burgess (drums).
The first track Be A Gentleman kicks off with a pounding guitar riff until eventually Andy’s falsetto kicks in. The lyrics tell of the dilemma that by being a man one can’t be a gentleman (hear hear).
Pyramids – an obvious choice for a single – was the first song to be properly released on July 19th and is my favourite from the album. Although it is a ballad it maintains the general tempo and anxiety of the album. Andy’s voice is at its best as he sings “Spin, spin like Catherine“. The chorus is intensely catchy to the point where it gives me goosebumps.
Add and Subtract sounds slightly heavier and rawer than their debut, almost like a live recording. Colouring, It’s War and Lucky Day use lots of distortion and a tense drum beats.
Scams’ unique sound can be best described as a subtle combination of math-rock and afrobeat elements. The latter is most obvious on Be A Gentleman and Lifeboats which make use of Vampire Weekend-esque guitar riffs. Lifeboats was the second single released on August 1st. Is is also one of the songs that were premiered live at the O2 Academy Islington last year.
The 10 track album is about half an hour long. It’s a very enjoyable pop rock album with beautifully crafted melodies and beats and soulful vocals. The album doesn’t contain a single song you’d want to skip with Pyramids and There’s No Shame In Revenge standing out in particular.
As hardworking as any stereotype of ‘the classic British band’, rock may not be their pigeonhole, but it’s a big part of their attitude. This album will hopefully get them the attention they so deserve.