Scenius – Enough Fears (MMXX Records, 2020)
Scenius came to the fore in April 2020 as a new synthpop and dark pop duo, formed by Fabrice Naou (Angers, France) and Steve Whitfield (Leeds, UK). With Enough Fears they prove that old synthesizers and a warm, elegant voice can make a big difference.
From the sound table to the synthesizers
Fabrice is the vocal part of the group, and has a musical background coming from his bands The Drift (indie rock), Kyu (electro pop) and Boutique Du Tao (pop). Steve leads the synthesizers, and besides being part of the group Klammer (post punk), is a producer and engineer for many groups, including The Cure, The Mission or Terrorvision.
With Enough Fears, Scenius released his first album in December 2020, which includes the singles released throughout the year (except Glass Rain). Enough Fears uses analog synthesizers, aided only by recording software. And this is evident in the general sound of the album, with instruments whose timbres have a comfortable feel, like finding yourself in a familiar space where you feel comfortable.
Less speed is more elegance
In general, Enough Fears is composed of calm themes, which are more oriented to the creation of atmospheres and melodies than to adrenaline. It is not dance electronics, not even the usual dance synthpop, but it is not devoid of rhythm either. Even when the rhythm is more present (as in the second track of the album, Some of your Nights), the elegance and sophistication of the retro synths, underlined by the warm voice of Fabrice, are the main features in the eleven tracks that make up the album.
Make It Shiny, the song that opens the album, is one of the most recognizable and with the greatest potential to reach the public. Fabrice’s voice stands out in the chorus, which seems to insistently claim something from the invisible interlocutor to whom it is addressed.
Almost all the songs are sung in English, except for Superposés which uses French, Fabrice’s native language. And the truth is that it fits perfectly: Fabrice sounds more ethereal than ever and the cadence of the percussion and bass are just right for dancing to the song without any hurry, letting yourself go. It’s the one I’ve enjoyed the most from the whole album, and its beauty matches the song The Slope by Morthem Vlade Art.
Less than dreams starts with a synthesized bass that kicks you right back to the beginnings of mass synthpop (Speak & Spell?). The moment the drum machine comes in and Fabrice changes verses shows a sensitivity that gives you goose bumps.
Finally, I would like to highlight Stark Relief. It’s slow, deliciously slow, and Frank’s dreamy voice is joined by the staggered, descending, strangely bright notes of the keyboard, down, way down…
A debut of subtle darkness
Fabrice and Steve have created an interesting debut, very enjoyable if you like slow cadences and melodies with dark but subtle tones. Their personality makes them not to sound like references such as Depeche Mode, De/Vision or Mesh, and that makes them even more recommendable. You may detect some influence of the ones from Basildon that make you remember their first albums in specific moments, but in no case it’s something evident.
If you are eager to find out more about Scenius, we recommend the interview with them in El Garaje de Frank (also in English). You can also contact the band directly through Facebook and buy their album at Bandcamp. And if you’re looking for a bit more toughness in Electronics, try the Valencian band The Alchemist (only in Spanish).