Huddersfield’s finest release their tenth studio album. After the loosely conceptual albums ‘The Terrifying Dream’ and ‘Chronica’, the lead tracks ‘Horse With No Face’ and ‘An Error Occurred’ suggested a more feral, focussed sound this time round. And it is a righteous racket, indeed.

‘Big Ideas’ lurches from the speakers, lop-sided and menacing. If a song can drag one leg behind it, this one does. As the chorus hits, “the woman of my conscience looks like Servalan”, a reminder of the marvellous Jacqueline Pearce, for those of a certain age.

‘An Error Occurred’ is like a slap to the face, in the nicest way. It’s pared back, lean, like The Fall on steroids, with the signature punchy bass of Steven Morricone. ‘Decade With No Name’ keeps up the pace. What can I say? It sounds like The Scaramangas. You’ll love it or be confused and walk away. Which is fine; they attract a particular type of devotion, not unlike their previous mentor, Tim Smith. They have a way with their backing vocals which is unlike anyone else, it often draws me in.

‘Boy’ is the first drop in tempo. While Steven, Paul and Julia are all fine singers, I’m sure they realise that it’s Paul’s voice that is the secret weapon. Lush, he veers here between sinister and loving. His solo album from last year, ‘Cruel Designs’ is a highlight.

When I first heard ‘Horse With No Face’, I was puzzled, mainly by the deliberately off key backing vocals, but, as is often the case, it’s grown on me. I expect it to be particularly fierce live. ‘Dog Form’, with military drums and a bridge that surprises, is suitably odd and addictive. ‘Cults’ even throws in a bit of Showaddywaddy. Expect the unexpected.

‘Death Mask Of The Unknown Lady Of The Seine’, the longest track at over six minutes, sounds like the ‘side two’ opener; there are fourteen songs. The bass and drums push it along like a locomotive, before they keyboards evoke Cardiacs, and the vocals describe the story of the lady who sees her  death as a release.

‘Stranger In Your Own Mind’ has Ants style whoops and a hint of John Barry, only the Scaras can create these songs. It’s difficult to describe to someone unfamiliar with their work. Another similarity to Cardiacs, I suppose. But, this is perhaps a more accessible world, whilst equally satisfying and rewarding once you immerse yourself in it. It certainly seeps into your being.

‘Ipso Facto’ gets dancey, in a John Grant style, just to add to the mix. I can imagine Bowie singing ‘Kate And Cindy’, I don’t know why, but the chorus really takes off. Steven has the honour of closing the album with ‘Then I Met Joanna’. If you know the band, you can imagine his arched eyebrow, complementing the dark lyrics. “You took your silver spoon, and stuck it in the moon, and yet, you wanted more”.

Once again, only the Scaramanga Six could have created this album. I remember seeing them support Eureka Machines. I didn’t know a single song, then they played ‘Misadventure’, and I was hooked. Listen on Bandcamp now; I hope you get addicted to their unique musical world.

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Author: Martin Chamarette