“Come off it now, what were you thinking?”
After one listen to Oozevoodoo you’d be confident in thinking that Chivalry, The Scare‘s debut album of 2007 was a bad dream best forgotten. Having spent a good year and change roughing it in Birmingham before heading back to Australia older and wiser, but tails firmly between their legs, Chivalry was a shambolic snapshot of a band seemingly at odds with themselves. A Shakespearean analogy dressed in black denim, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing, Oozevoodoo is the album Chivalry should’ve been, but for The Scare to get where they are now, the trials and tribulations of the previous years were necessary to make the album everybody knew they were capable of.
A fortuitous meeting with Daniel Johns of Silverchair set the ball in motion, with Johns waving a minimalist wand, recording the band as live and clean sounding as possible. Here the songs have room to breathe, with vocalist Kiss Reid finally learning the meaning of restraint and the rock solid rhythm section of Samuel Pearton and Wade Keighran getting pushed to the front in what is very much a percussive, vibrant beast. Split into two sides, the first half of Oozevoodoo is sheer perfection. Razor-sharp pop songs rubbing shoulders with each other, from the jittery, strung out vibes of “Could Be Bad” smack into the anthemic dole queue chant of “No Money”.
The sonic strength of first barrage of tracks gives the impression they’ve loaded the deck with the big hitters, but rolling straight into the boy-ish bravado of “She Can’t Say No” and the snotty squeal of “I’m Desperate”, most of the tracks quickly love you and leave you, barely touching the 3 minute mark before the next tune rolls in like a slap in the face. One noticeable breakthrough on Oozevoodoo is the guitar mix, where instead of playing on top of each other like a pair of siamese guitarists, Brock Alexander and Liam O’Brien now strum noticeably different parts that drive the track, rather than demolish it. Be it down to Johns and engineer Chris Townend calling the shots or the band picking up their game, but The Scare themselves have never played or sounded better.
“As He Walks” is Oozevoodoo‘s hidden weapon. A slow-burning track straight out of the Bad Seeds swampland that would have Nick Cave wishing he could still write. Keighran’s stalking bassline weaving through the track like a snake in the grass. It’s only Kiss Reid’s no-battery-mobile-phone-blues (or whatever the fuck it’s about) on “Charger” that doesn’t hit the mark. For those lucky to have heard an earlier version of the record, we say “where’s Cyber Love?”, but rounding out with the loping swagger of “I Saw Destruction” and the shakedown chant of “Cry” with its self-fulfilling chorus “Who told you not to believe in yourself?”, The Scare sit down to eat a 5 course meal out of their own words and they do it in style.
It’s hard to be impartial when I love these guys. I couldn’t tell them I hated their first album, just like you can’t tell some proud parents their kid is gonna have a hard time making friends, but with Oozevoodoo, they’ve beaten the odds, beaten the doubters, grew a pair of balls and made a great fucking record. Now go out there and do something with it, ladies.