Originally published on 22 July 2011
The Scarlette Fever are Canadian, and they sure are proud of it. Hailing from Ontario, the foursome write catchy indie rock that, for the most part, avoids the doe-eyed posturing of their contemporaries. With song titles like 'Sweet Canadian Love' and lyrics to match, Scarlette Fever aren’t afraid to show a hefty classic rock influence. They aim for fun and fearless, but unfortunately, often hit the wrong note. The lyrics to ‘Sweet Canadian Love,’ for instance, come off more funny than fun, and 'Get It for Free' sounds more like an awkward run through of an Andrew WK song than a finished track of their own. There are moments in each track where the classic rock and modern influences mesh well, but the songs are overlong and unrefined, lacking in urgency and identity, the band come out sounding, at best, like a second rate Enon.
Elsewhere, however, they manage a more convincing synthesis, such as on older track, ‘So Long Suckers’ which with its hook-laden energy manages to recall Superchunk without sounding redundant or derivative. The lead vocals are more confident, with less focus on aping classic rock styles, which allows the band to relax into a style of their own. Likewise, ‘Evicted’ isn’t afraid to be catchy at the expense of being simple, the lyrics not detracting from the track as they do in ‘Sweet Canadian Love.’
The Scarlette Fever can write catchy songs, but they suffer from an apparent fear of simplicity a problem which runs through much of their material. ‘Tomorrow,’ for example, is a catchy song labouring under a pretentious and ill-conceived orchestral backing track, the string arrangements adding nothing to the track other than embarrassing melodrama. Likewise, ‘Wasted Time’ sounds over composed, as if the band are compensating, overstretching themselves. It’s a shame, too, because the energy of their no frills tracks is unavoidably engaging, and sounds like a band having fun, playing live.
Judging by their website, the Scarlette Fever are band that enjoys touring, and I’m not surprised. All of their songs are just wriggling to be free of the overproduction and anxiety of their recordings, to break free of the worry and just let it all hang out. They are songs to dance to and sing along with, something that manages for the most part to elude the recordings. They wear their influences on their sleeve, but the Scarlette Fever are their own band. They just need to be more sure of themselves on that.
Check out the video below and see what you think.