Experimental downer rock has come to define Scum Laude, a three-piece that have been gigging in Vancouver since 2017. Their newest, self titled full-length, Scum Laude, was recorded in a basement but mixed to sound like a fuzzy bedroom tape. If you’re in the mood to settle into a comfortable kind of sadness, you’ll float through the 12 tracks easily. Stylistically, it’s a low-maintenance listen that feels like you’re commiserating with an old friend rather than admiring the art of a stranger.
I had been hearing about Scum Laude and seeing them play live for months before I listened to their music online. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting — their live set is considerably more raw and energetic than this album. Instead of in-your-face, carefree punk, Scum Laude’s tracks present folk elements wrapped in lo-fi production.
From the very first track on Scum Laude, I hear Girlpool. It’s not just because of the female vocals, but the down-on-your-luck lyrical vulnerability and the minimalism in every aspect of their sound. The drums are low in the mix and about as simple as possible, with minor chords and jangly guitar riffs leading the songs forward. The second track is the sweet and dreamy “Desolate,” recalls “Sarah” by Alex G a bonus song on the record Trick. I hear The Submissives — and their many influences, among them The Shaggs — easily throughout. The inspiration is clear in Scum Laude, but their brand of indie is just different enough to be its own beast.
You can pretty well daydream your way through the album. This can be inviting, but also borderline dull. In a very real way, their style is escapist. Both the lyrics and instrumentation are accessible enough that you’d never have to think yourself into liking it. It’s not technical, it’s not bold, and it’s not fluffy or overly laboured.
But if you’re hoping for a collection of unique songs rather than 40 minutes of straight downer rock, you’ll be disappointed. After listening to it front to back, I struggled to remember any one song in particular, but I knew that I wanted to hear it again.