The band name and artwork for this album set me up with the expectation of another constructed indie facsimile bled dry of imagination and real emotion. Thankfully this duo out of Melbourne flipped my preconceptions by way of their compositional agility and creative twisting of pop and electronica. Tom Iansek has one of those voices that comes from the Jeff Buckley school of sensitive choirboy cooing and crooning but he does it damn well and never gets caught up in the need for histrionics, indeed this is an album built on restraint. They temper over-reliance on Iansek’s vocals by utilising drummer Jo Syme’s sweet yet unassuming voice at various junctions, giving Big Scary an even wider palette to work with. Belgian Blues is one of the album highlights even though it is a wholesale rip-off of Buckley’s sound and drama. When they get sparse and minimal on our ears it works equally well, sometimes using just drums and a simple synth pad behind their vocals as on the Xx-ish Twin Rivers. Not Art is art, an album with poise and depth amid its atmospheric, tripped out melodic blur and beats.
by Chris Familton
this review was first published in VICE magazine