One of the huge perks of my job as music editor is getting to see floods of new artists coming in every week, and trying to find those bands that are hidden jewels that will hopefully make it big someday. England’s Scars on 45 is definitely one of those bands.
It took me by surprise when I looked back to see how long ago their first EP came out in the States, and learned my review posted here back in January of last year. Back then, they were just a little band from Bradford, England who relied heavily on social media and sites like SlicethePie.com for album funding and a chance to get noticed. This debut album has actually been ready to go for almost three years, but the Scars crew had to work relentlessly to make it happen.
Fortunately, Chop Shop and Atlantic Records took notice, and gave them a few tries on TV soundtracks. With a break coming on “Beauty’s Running Wild” for CSI: New York, and an even bigger one for “Heart on Fire” as the featured single on Grey’s Anatomy last season, (See also: “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol or “How to Save a Life” from The Fray) it was only a matter of time before the quintet caught on fire as well.
All their hard work paid off, and Scars on 45 is finally here. Only ten songs long, the album features three songs off their Give Me Something EP, one from their Heart on Fire EP, and six other “newer” songs. Their sound, like a more poppy mix of Snow Patrol of 80’s new wave bands like The Cure, relies heavily on piano-laden melodies and beautiful harmonies between lead singers Danny Pemrose and Aimee Driver. The two trade verses and then blend together perfectly on songs like album opener, “Warning Sign” where they sing of the solidarity and helping one another through hard times.
Much of the lyrics don’t go too deep, but rather focus on compassion and a hand up in troubled times. On hit single, “Heart on Fire” they sing “When you’re standing on your own, and you feel you’ve got nobody around you, you know I’ll be the one who helps you from your knees.” “Don’t Say” is another track from their first EP that they originally did a gorgeous acoustic version of. The sped up studio version is just as touching, but I love the acoustic rendition, stripped of drums and electric guitars to really focus on the harmonies of their voices.
Speaking of their harmonies, this band can definitely pull these tracks off live as well. I saw them about six months ago opening for Jack’s Mannequin, and I think most people ended up just as excited about Scars as they did about the headliner. Check the review here.
“Change My Needs” flips the formula, and lets Driver have a song all to herself. Her haunting vocals are dreamy and ethereal, and I could easily listen to a whole album of just her. “Give Me Something” charted last year on the top five of the Adult Alternative list. It’s a no-brainer to see why, as the stutter-stop of the drums and perfect grasp of pop-friendly melodies has you singing along to the chorus the first time you hear it.
“Beauty’s Running Wild” is another standout that obviously earned them fans after its CSI debut, but it’s the closer “Insecurity” that shows the most promise of growth and maturity, with hints at what’s to come. Bemrose’s vocals over simple piano segues again into Driver’s, and before you know it, the song is hitting a powerful climax and a hopeful look and promises “we might make it.” The results are in, Scars, and I think you have.
Try This Track: “Don’t Say”