Listen to This! Album Review: Scanners – Love Is Symmetry

Scanners - Love Is Symmetry

Recorded on their own in various flats around London, Scanners’ first album, Violence Is Golden, was a raw, sucker punch of new wave hellfire. Dim Mak Records label boss and cake loving party guru, Steve Aoki, immediately saw the potential of a talented quartet that was a cross between The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and a band from his own stable, Bloc Party. Their debut was easily one of the best albums of 2006 from top to bottom; tracks like “Joy,” “Lowlife,” “In My Dreams,” and “Bombs” were edgy and flawless cinematic rockers.  It’s no wonder that by 2010’s Submarine, TV and film producers had noticed Scanners and took full advantage of their sound by leasing songs and pacing their own projects with the dramatic twists and turns that detonate on any given Scanners track.

By the time Scanners released 2013’s Love Is Symmetry, they no longer have to record on the run, yet they still retain the naked, visceral energy of their first effort on this LP. Additionally, the growth in the diversity of moods they showed on Submarine continues to blossom here. Their universe is larger and has expanded to include sweeping orchestral arrangements and hints of folk rock.

For example, “Control” and “Mexico” both embrace the dance aesthetics of synthpop, complete with hand claps and all. They swim freely, crooning and trumpeting as loudly as the latest Of Monsters and Men single. Meanwhile, “State of Wonder” is by far the most pastoral sounding song they’ve ever created. It’s a soaring and stunning opus of that heralds the coming of shimmering, celestial messages from the heavens above and the hearts below.

Throughout, vocalist Sarah Daly somehow manages to simultaneously fade into the background and erupt at just the right moment. Her voice operates in sync with the pianos, the crashing symbols, and the deep, husky bass lines. “When They Put Me Back Together They Forgot To Turn Me On” brings all of these elements together. It could very well be taken from a film score that Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor wishes he’d made.

Over the past seven years, Scanners have, like a rock and roll math equation, systematically built upon themselves and their work to reach this point of eureka. On Love Is Symmetry, Scanners have not so much added anything to their music as they’ve unlocked a vault from which we get to see a clearer, more complete picture of what’s been hidden underneath. The final two tracks drive this point home eloquently. “Today Is The Day That They Promised Yesterday” creeps and squelches along, firing its ray guns and steady electric hum. It’d be a fine closer were it not for the fact that it could leave the listener with the false impression that not much has changed for the Scanners recently. Despite its sour title, “One Problem Always Changes To Another,” is a proper send off for Love Is Symmetry. Daly and Matthew Mole sing in ragged, childlike harmony to emphasize that this is a better, slightly brighter Scanners and this time around, it won’t be just Hollywood who’ll become enamored with them.