Brooklyn-based synthpop group Scam Avenue has been busy lately.
Most notably the band has released its Mercury EP, a noteworthy collection of songs that sound influenced by the music of England in the early- to mid-1980s. New Order, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees all come to mind as inspirations for the EP, but there are C86 moments in the mix, too.
It’s kind of a stretch to choose a stand-out track out of four songs, especially given that each song offers a different take on the band’s approach to channeling their influences while creating something new. I’ll try it anyway.
The standout is “Candy,” a cold, driving ensemble of synthesizer arpeggiations, disconnected melodies, tempered guitar touches, and the evocative vocals of lead singer Devery Doleman and backup singer Tara Chacón. Along with those singers, guitarist and keyboardist Lawrence Kim has created a cut that wouldn’t be out of place on any New Order release up to and including 1985’s Low-Life.
The other songs on Mercury are also worthwhile, but if I had to round out the notables to two, I’d add “Spies.” This is where the C86 carefully bleeds into the record’s cold and sparse young New Order sensibilities.
It’s an intriguing contrast: There are jangly guitars paired with a frantic drum-machine part and very sparse synthesizers, atop which Doleman sings sweetly about the intricacies of relationships with some instantly memorable vocal hooks. I’d go further than to say there’s just a Thatcher-era England vibe on this one, though. In a different key, this could be a Chromatics song.