by Jorge Velez
There’s a record scratch and the music stops. In walks this cool mysterious person to the party. You’ve heard whispers that they're maybe someone’s cousin and that they're the one who illegally parked that car in the neighbor’s driveway. Despite not socializing with anyone, they holds everyone’s attention and retains an irresistible charm. Drink in one hand and holding their phone in the other, they look uninterested in conversation. They leaves without ever formally introducing themself. Partygoers wonder if they were even real, they remain the center of discussion long after their exit. This is London’s Dama Scout: so cool, so surreal and so short-lived, it’s showcased in the brilliant brevity of their four-song self-titled release out on Father/Daughter Records.
With all this dreamy allure, it’s easy to think Dama Scout’s appeal might just be a façade. However, seconds into the Dama Scout EP the juxtaposition between the jangly guitar and subtly fuzzed bass proves otherwise; album opener “Toothache” shows everything behind this band’s seductive aesthetics is grounded in substance. It’s surrealism, something distinctly Lynch-ian yet too based in pop sensibility to alienate listeners. The arrangements are consuming, proving guitar rock is not only still interesting and relevant, but has the potential to still be so, so strange.
Like all good indie rock, they harken in some ways to Pavement and Built To Spill, and in their more destructive movements, Sonic Youth. However, vocalist/guitarist Eva Liu uniquely constructs these songs with her infectiously rewarding vocal melodies and chord choices that make their choruses rival the ethereal ambiance of early My Bloody Valentine. In their bizarre walk-in-the-park takes on songwriting they detour and veer, finding unique routes on paths explored a hundred times before. The chorus of “Suzie Wong” feels as if they’ve not only mastered a formula, but also added something distinctly their own; perhaps the loving secret indie rock’s recipe has been missing the last few years.
Every time Dama Scout sound like they’re about to miss a note, they resolve the dissonance with a sugar sweet hook before hard cutting right back into whirling chaos. Best heard in the aptly named “Sugar”, they prove they’re not afraid of risking the accessibility of a pop chorus for coupled noisy roundabouts. Akin to larger modern indie rock acts like Now Now and Palm, the Dama Scout EP shows that in four songs Dama Scout have not only firmly put their foot in the door, but also have simultaneously broken the handle.