Nov 2012 08

Scarlet Soho - When the Lights Go Out EPScarlet Soho
Category: Electro-pop
Album: When the Lights Go Out EP
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Competent but lacking in surprises, this EP will make fans of cheerful tunes happy without winning over anyone who isn’t susceptible to pop and its retro electro aberrations.


UK based Scarlet Soho for some time now has been touring with the likes of IAMX and their EP When the Lights Go Out gives a brief glimpse into the band’s inoffensive blend of bleeps and melodic vocals. What stands out the most about the British act is not necessarily the unique approach to electro-pop displayed on this EP (because it isn’t), but the efficiency with which they tap into genre’s inherent surplus of positive energy and how this energy never translates into anything truly accomplished.

There are three likeminded compositions among the track list and they all utilize a similar emotional range to put an energizing spin on what essentially remains a good old proven pop sensibility. The titular “When the Lights Go Out” has a rhythmic beeping opening that leads into a nourishing and lighthearted composition that makes a good use of the acoustic and electronic elements alike and blends them effortlessly if without a particularly original twist. The male vocals, courtesy of James Knights, do a solid job of selling the aesthetic through a typical mélange of masculine and feminine that drives the song in an adequately paced tempo. “What You Need” is a more deliberate affair that sways rather than bounces and vividly evokes the sort of lightweight summery mood that makes the music wash over you without ever leaving a lasting mark. In its last seconds when the tempo suddenly shifts and the track gains momentum, there is a brief but inspiring climax that hints at unrealized potential that Scarlet Soho might one day explore if they care to deviate from the retro pop path being tread at the moment. Closing the list of original material on the EP is “Retail Therapy” that exercises the same routines and goes through similar motions, provoking irritation and longing for other than sweetly disco-esque modes of musical expression. The Tokyotron remix of “When the Lights Go Out” is heavier and more danceable with a well pronounced beat, but ultimately reveals the prevalent importance of Knights’ vocals, yet again reverting the listener to square one where the image of Scarlet Soho is clear and monophonic and the sound limited to instantly recognizable tropes. The radio edit that condenses the song really does what should have been done in the first place and trims the annoying downtimes that the original spent toying with, typical for the genre, beeping sound effects.

Scaret Soho’s EP is well produced and, on a technical level, very much accomplished. If the tracks from When the Lights Go Out suddenly appeared on the airwaves of the local radio station, they could even be considered infectious. Under scrutiny though, despite the lasting positive spin that they put on their music, the electro-pop that Scarlet Soho plays belongs as much to them as it belongs to an assortment of similar acts. Undistinguished and lacking in true imagination, these songs are serviceable but in no way memorable.
Track list:

  1. When the Lights Go Out
  2. What You Need
  3. Retail Therapy
  4. When the Lights Go Out (Tokyotron Remix by Trouble Over Tokyo)
  5. When the Lights Go Out (Radio Edit)

Scarlet Soho Website
Scarlet Soho MySpace
Scarlet Soho Facebook
Scarlet Soho Twitter
Scarlet Soho SoundCloud
Mirrorman Label
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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