Take Away Your Summer is a riveting record that juxtaposes urban decay and anarchism against romantic melodies.
Nothing says summer quite like a “futuristic broken romance set amidst a burning dystopian landscape”. If you think I’m being facetious, put on Take Away Your Summer and think again. For their second full-length, Hull-based duo Scattered Clouds assemble a riotous, ridiculously riveting record that juxtaposes urban decay and anarchism against romantic sounding melodies to stunning effect.
Lead single “Don’t Question Me” is deceptive in its sleek, ambient approach. Building on crisp rhythm and retro-sounding synth bleeps, it’s indicative of Take Away Your Summer’s more seductive side. It’s the spoonful of sugar that helps rough-cut opener “Justice” go down as smooth as it does given its motorik post-apocalyptic assault. That same frenetic energy reemerges near the album’s close on “Hors-La-Loi” and “Danger”, the former a menacing, slow-building barn-burner and the latter a quasi-disco/soul dance number that imagines what Young Americans-era Bowie might have sounded like if played by agnostic German punk session musicians.
But for all its dystopian-leaning tendencies, Scattered Clouds’ Philippe Charbonneau and Jamie Kronick spend much of Take Away Your Summer infusing these songs with familiar pop touchstones. “Days on End” is a retro-futuristic techno-pop slice of perfection; “La Politique, Concours Pseudo-Érotique” offers a curious and quirky respite from the album’s more aggressive overtures without dialling down its foreboding sense of dread and fear.
While North America finds itself in the grip of climate change’s cruel summer of meteorological mayhem and rising political storms on both sides of the border set to reshape the political landscape for four more years, Scattered Clouds aspires to do the exact opposite: in its own unique way, Take Away Your Summer gives back a modicum of control — and hope — in an otherwise inevitable downward spiral of societal decay. If the world is going to burn, then damn it, let’s burn it down in style.