Listeners will discover a colorful treasure chest of rich tonality flanked with smart, cerebral melodies that soar skyward toward the heavens in Modern Remains, the new album from Brookhaven & Scatter Swept, whose pairing represents one of the most thrilling collaborations we’ll hear this winter. We start off with the glistening sounds of “Sawtell,” a subtle but jarring introduction to the nine blistering tracks that comprise the record. As we press on, we’re treated to a litany of textures that are melded together in a stellar, swaggering package produced urbanely and with immense attention to detail. Brookhaven & Scatter Swept have made awesome music before, but this is perhaps their most vulnerable and personal look yet.
Modern Remains sports a very sharp mix, particularly in songs like “Already Moving Away,” the resonant “No Focus,” “Centerform,” “I Write for No One” and, of course, the haunting “Path in the Dark.” We feel every inch of sonic virtuosity that either band is capable of producing inside the four walls of a studio, and despite the limiting space afforded to them, they render one pristinely reverberating riff after another in this LP. The music is a brute force to be reckoned with, but the melodies are never inaccessible or aggressive in nature.
Thick basslines don’t stop “Centerform,” “Concolor” or “Be a Certain Number” from feeling agile and instrumentally poetic, and that’s really saying something when analyze all of the intricacies within their compositions. Brookhaven & Scatter Swept are particularly adept at taking simple harmonies and extending them into all-out anthems that, in a live setting, could last as long as this entire album does. The jam potential is enormous, but instead of feeling like we’re only catching a glimpse of that here, the surreal equalization of all the songs gives us the same chills that we would find in the front row of a live performance.
“Until I Learn Your Name Again” features one of the slicker structures to behold in Modern Remains, and alongside “Sawtell” and “Centerform,” encapsulates the smooth harmonies-meets-heavy finish concept behind the way the record was produced. The music on its own is so evocative that pedestrian verses and hooky choruses seem irrelevant to their grandeur, and they employ neither when imparting to us the deep emotionality in their tones. Sublimely decadent but efficiently engineered, Modern Remains is an album that keeps us on our toes without forcing a lot of experimental ideals down our throats.
I would describe this collaborative offering from Brookhaven & Scatter Swept as postmodern but not quite as indulgent as shoegaze; simply put, this is alternative rock for a more erudite and discriminating generation of music enthusiasts. These two bands don’t try to recycle the narratives nor the rhythms of their peers and predecessors on this record; intead, they boldly dive into the future on the whim of a shimmering set of strings that sound heaven-sent in this age of synthesized grooves and inorganic melodicism. The bottom line? Modern Remains is an album that no dedicated music buff should ignore.