Record of the Week: Negative Scanner


September 23rd, 2015 by

NEGATIVE SCANNER – LP

The brilliant promise of that first NEGATIVE SCANNER single was the way it oscillated between moody, off-kilter rhythmic trance and classic “Moon Over Marin”-style hookiness, and I guess they could have gone either way with their full-length. It seems like they mostly stuck with the latter, which was the one disappointment in my first go-around with this record. Maybe I’m just more rhythmically inclined, so don’t let my personal temperament steer you away. If anyone ever tells you that Chicago is a zero-tracks kind of town (everyone’s an expert since Martin moved away from the MRR compound), you can tune them in to “Would You Rather” (it’s incredible) or “Ivy League Asshole” after you name-check the EFFIGIES. Something about the way the guitarists play here is really forcing me to make my first WIPERS comparison in my career as an MRR reviewer (I was hoping to make it at least ten issues before this happened). Specifically it reminds of that eerie Youth of America-era open-chord type of sound, an under-tapped vein of inspiration. The beginning of “Forget It” has this incessant chime that gets cut through by an underlying guitar line that sounds like a cello or something. The winding and cresting surf guitar riff that opens up “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” is just sick; it’s raw, it’s classic. One thing really ties it together here: Rebecca Valeriano-Flores is an utterly devastating lyricist with a powerfully understated delivery, a tuff singer. All you other so-called songsmiths out there: step it up. More and more uncanny details come up as I spend more time with these songs. This one is either a winter record dropped in the wrong time of year or a summer record for that point late at night in a hot city when you realize you can’t stand it outside any longer. Backed. (Eli Wald)

(Trouble in Mind)

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