by Rebecca Kovach
When I come across an album by a band I’ve never listened to before, it usually takes a few listens before I can start to fully appreciate it. This was not the case when I first listened to The American Scene’s newest album “Safe For Now.” The band’s music is poised and sincere, and tackles the usual issues of friendship, love, and being alone in such a way that makes them seem brand new. And with it’s crisp guitars and laid-back nature, “Safe For Now” is California indie rock at its finest.
Opening track “Just Say It” sets the stage for this slow-burner of an album. The warm guitar tones and lead singer Matthew Vincent’s soothing voice overshadow the melancholy topic: a lover leaving and finding someone new. But rather than being bitter about the loss of love, the song focuses on moving on as Vincent declares, “I’m not afraid of the end/No, not afraid of the ending of anything.”
The forward-thinking attitude suddenly changes though in “The View From Here,” a solemn song that admits that moving on is not always easy. The track reaches a boiling point when Vincent wails, “Talk until you/Turn back into/A different version of your disassembled person/I’ve heard enough,” before dropping back off into a sultry mixture of flowing guitar work and rolling drums.
“Safe For Now” is ten solid songs with no fillers, but the stand outs come in the forms of the brooding “Fifth and Natoma” and acoustic track “Untitled.” The song’s steady and somber drums create a loneliness that is perpetuated by the lyrics. Vincent wistfully sings, “I tried so hard not to hurt you/But the best laid plans are still just bad,” the remorse tangible in every word.
Things slow down briefly during “Untitled,” the only acoustic track on the album. It’s raw and meandering nature will give you chills each and every time you listen to it, the simplistic beauty never growing weary. The sympathetic tone of the guitars only serves to enhance Vincent’s soft and reflective vocals. If there were ever any doubts about his ability to sing, “Untitled” quickly puts them to rest.
The pace of “Safe For Now” is slow and steady but it never feels dragged out. The American Scene manages to channel such bands as Brand New and Transit without sounding recycled, and all while putting its own spin on a familiar genre. If this band wasn’t on your radar before, it will be now. With “Safe For Now” only being The American Scene’s second full-length album, you can be certain that the band will still be around for years to come.
Rebecca Kovach is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com