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Scholars - Black And Blue (Single Review)

Friday, 22 March 2013 Written by James Ball
Scholars - Black And Blue (Single Review)

Exactly one year ago today I wrote my last Scholars review, and while I was mostly positive about 'Bad for Business', I had a few problems with it. Most importantly it didn’t quite seem imaginative enough, and had a really awkward “quiet” bit half way through. So, one year later what has changed?


This new offering from Hemel Hempstead’s finest is suitably frantic with an almost panicked intro in what appears to be a 13/4 time signature. So there goes my original problem with imagination straight away. It only takes seconds for the desperate and heavy guitars to crash in while frontman Sam Nicholls wails about this one girl who seems to be far more than she first seems. You end up getting drawn in by the sheer rawness of the track. It never ever lets up or gives you a breather, constantly pummelling its message home. There are a lot of tracks out there that do that and end up being totally unlistenable as layers drown layers, but here Scholars have crafted a well-organised, and equally chaotic piece. And for that they should be proud.

The other problem I had with 'Bad for Business' was an awkward quiet bit, and 'Black and Blue' does eventually turn down too, except this time it seems far more natural leading into the end of the track. It’s almost like you’ve spent the whole song running uphill and its climax is when you get to the top, exhausted to catch your breath and possibly collapse. The construction of the piece has been well thought out and you can’t help but feel like you’ve just listened to something important.

Also featured on the single is 'Wreck' which is definitely worth a listen, but a little more rock-by-numbers. It’s busy enough with a heavy bass line, and also proves Nicholls vocal talents aren’t limited to a handful of tracks, but it lacks the intricacies and style found on 'Black and Blue'. Nevertheless it’s still a storming tune.

Both Black and Blue' and 'Bad for Business' are going to be featured on upcoming new album 'Always Lead, Never Follow' which comes out on April 8th. Judging by the overall quality of the two tracks I’ve heard from it so far, it’s beginning to look like an essential purchase.

‘Black and Blue’ will be released on 1st April 2013.

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