For myself, still somewhat as a beginner to the vast array of sights and attractions that London has to offer me, the district of Soho is still somewhat of an area of mythical proportions I have yet to experience. I imagine streets bathed in the warm glows of neon and shop windows adorned with the letter X aplenty, along the cold, cobbled paths you tread upon. The reality is probably not that exciting really, its real face best known by those who pass through or by everyday. In any case, incorporating this infamous area into a band name, of which the other half just happens to be the stage name of this group’s smoking red-headed bassist, makes for an eye-raising phrase most certainly. The Southampton duo are somewhat of a modern take on The Human League if they’d decided to become an indie band. Filled with the lavish modular synths and concise percussion of the 80’s that we’ve grown to know and love, there’s an attitude and sass to their songwriting that becomes inexplicably addictive the longer you’re exposed to their punchy beats and synth lines. That said, there are moments of menace in their practice, some of the slower-moving songs almost shifting into dark wave territory. I wanted to focus on I Dare from 2009’s Warpaint for this piece, which I hold as their best song, but YouTube lacks in decent quality versions, so I went with the next best thing in Speak Your Mind instead. A cutting wave of synth is blasted at you to begin with, a demonstration of that menace that lurks in the machinery of Scarlet Soho, before brighter keys take over, prominent vibrating bass backs it up and the stylised popstar performance almost apologises for the inconvenience. But the content afterwards is filled with the attention-grabbing hooks and delicious melodies that would fill the floor in your local discotheque 30 odd years ago. The ending even gets a little raucous to boot. Also, the lyric ‘Hook, line and lip sync’ is brilliant might I add. Synth-pop is in a great state of health, even if the demand for it is faltering, and its groups such as Scarlet Soho, taking a contemporary but confident tweak on a monumentally successful formula to pour as much passion and dedication over a decade into it as possible, to break down the door into commercial success once again.
Scarlet Soho’s three albums, this year’s In Cold Blood, Warpaint and 2004’s Divisions Of Decency as well as various EPs, singles and a best of and rarities can be bought either via their webstore or via most respectable music retailers.