Album Review: The Scene Aesthetic - 'The Days Ahead EP'

29 December 2011 | 9:28 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

The perfect EP to finally get this duo some well deserved recognition.

For anyone that hasn’t heard of The Scene Aesthetic let’s go back to 2005. In those distant days when myspace was a band’s biggest marketing tool, Eric Bowley and Andrew de Torres built themselves a strong following through the social media platform before releasing their first full length in 2006. After a 2-year hiatus in which the boys focused on their own personal projects (Bowley headed to Argentina and de Torres worked on a new band), the duo reformed and released an EP as well as 2010’s full length Brother. Now in December 2011 the boys are back with the follow up, The Days Ahead EP.

After 6 years, 6 releases and relentless touring with some of the better known bands in their genre, the duo are still quite unknown and unsigned, but this is the EP that has the potential to change all that.

The seven song EP is extremely vocally driven (they are a vocal duet, so I suppose that seems to be an obvious point). The diverse sounds in both of the vocalists’ voices compliment each other well. Whether it is back and forth ‘banter’ between the two, or the vocalists are harmonizing together, the lower deeper quality of Bowley’s vocals and the softer higher quality of de Torres’ voice compliments each other perfectly.

For the majority of the EP the songs are kept quite simple and minimalistic. For most of the 26 minutes you won’t hear anything more than two voices, a guitar and a piano. This stripped back environment suits the vocalists quite well, ensuring the focus is on their voices and the music is simply carrying them throughout.

EP opener and title track, “The Days Ahead”, sets the tone for the EP perfectly. Beginning with soft keys and guitars, the song is smooth and simple. The back and forth vocals between Bowley and de Torres immediately display how well the dual vocals compliment each other, while the harmonizing of their vocals in the chorus displays the way their voices perfectly intertwine with each other. There is nothing technical or flamboyant here, just a simple, stripped back acoustic track; smooth, calm, enjoyable and catchy.

That is a theme you will also find reoccurring throughout the EP. No matter how simple or stripped back the tracks may sound, those simple melodies played alongside catchy lyrics will have you singing along well after the EP has finished. For an acoustic duo they definitely have a knack for writing a memorable pop/rock hook.

As the EP continues the duo experiment with layering other instruments into their tracks such as drums, percussion and string instruments, helping to keep their tracks sounding varied and different from the next, while still ensuring the vocals are the main focus. Just compare the difference between the sound when the tambourine is keeping beat in “Ships” to the drumbeats in “Letters” or the absence of both in “Paper Hearts”.

The EP highlight comes in the form of the most upbeat track, “A Little Bit More”. It is definitely the most “pop rock” track of the release. While the variety of instruments used is still quite stripped back, the way they are used creates a summery, upbeat feeling while the catchy hooks of the chorus are going to get stuck in your head. It is one of those infectious songs that you can’t help bopping along to, proving that The Scene Aesthetic can also create a good upbeat poppy sounding song.

EP closer, “Everybody” is the only track on the record that seems to completely miss the mark. It heads back to the slowed down, stripped back setting the rest of the EP functions in and while the vocals still sound great, the track doesn’t seem to work. It still utilizes the same formula; acoustic guitar, dual vocals and strings, whether it is this repetition that has finally become too familiar or if it’s the fact that the most stripped back track follows the only upbeat track on the EP, “Everybody” just isn’t the greatest way to end the EP.

The Days Ahead is a well rounded but short-lived EP. It thrives on its ability to be simple and stripped back while still sounding full and complete. Dual vocalists Bowley and de Torres prove that their vocals have the ability to stand at the forefront of their music, utilizing the simplest of instruments to carry them along. While there are moments of versatility, by the end of the EP the tracks seem to feel all too familiar. This is definitely an EP that will keep fans of the duo happy while also providing a small look into what The Scene Aesthetic can do, perfect for getting this duo the recognition they deserve and paving a path for another record.

1. The Days Ahead
2. Letters
3. Ships
4. Walk Away
5. Paper Hearts
6. A Little Bit More
7. Everybody