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Posted July 4, 2007 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Scouting For Girls is Fun

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At first glance, I assumed that Scouting For Girls was a well-placed pun in regard to the Girl Scouts. It would have been quite clever — arranging the few words of an organization that preaches mature growth, responsibility, and dedication into a type of unparalleled sport that most single (and immorally married) men casually enjoy, though “scouting for” usually inherits a verbal substitution that appears much more subtle, with phrases such as “looking for a romantic companion” or “searching for my other half” usually said instead to friends or family members of a more judgmental nature who think aloud when wondering what your Friday nights consist of. But of course, the trio from London is more mature than that. The Girl Scouts are an organization that is much too feeble to pick on. Instead, Scouting For Girls’ name is in referral to the book of the same name by Robert Baden-Powell, published in 1908. Though Baden-Powell went on to become the founder of the Boy Scouts, Scouting For Girls saw the book as the proper symbol for their project. “The name Scouting for Girls is both a cheeky pun and a beautifully rounded image,” the band writes on their MySpace. “[It is] infused with the nostalgia of innocent childhood and boyish adventure, yet suggestive of maturation towards experience, adulthood and disillusionment.”

Formed in 2005, the three members of Scouting For Girls go by the cordial names of Roy Stride, Greg Churchouse, and Peter Ellard. The “lifelong friends” all lend in a hand in regard to the vocals as Roy plays the piano, Greg plucks the bass, and Peter drums steadily. While the use of guitar is certainly not lacking in the production of their songs, I am not sure who takes control of the instrument. Regardless, like most bands that appear to have a radio-friendly approach, the focal point of Scouting For Girls appears to be their developed melodies, often catchy enough to earn most of their songs the right and opportunity to be heralded as one of the catchiest songs of the summer. If Scouting For Girls becomes one of the biggest bands in the UK by the end of the year, I would hardly be surprised. Yes, that’s right. It is more than likely that Scouting For Girls will eventually outgrow the “undiscovered” aspect of this blog, as they express a form of musical intellect that will allow for both veneration in relation to their musicianship and stylistically broad preference. They manage to blend elements of 90s Brit-pop and contemporary British indie-rock without sounding outdated or cliché. Roy’s utilization of keys reminds me heavily of Blur’s reigning heyday in the mid-90s, with the joint vocals sounding harmoniously comparable to Albarn’s creative peak and the keys as irresistibly correspondent and reactionary as the likes of “Charmless Man” or “Clover Over Dover”.

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Their lyrical wit and youthful delivery will also likely place them on the same boat with fellow British modern successes in the vein of the Arctic Monkeys or the Maccabees. However, from where I am standing, it is apparent that Scouting For Girls contains more musical maturity than both of those bands combined. Instead of relying on repetitious guitar riffs and similarly layered vocal melodies, Scouting For Girls implements a varied approach of wholesomely executed pop music that benefits from trademark elements of quality songwriting. While their songs are typically under four minutes and contain traditional structural progressions, the songs on their debut three-song EP, It’s Not About You, all encompass infectious melodic features that allows the listener to enjoy the songs at hand, regardless of one’s mood. Whether you are brooding a lost lover or celebrating the discovery of a new one, the songs remain suitably enduring. The addictive qualities are represented best in the exceptionally infectious “Mountains of Navaho”. With layers of keys and synths toppling on a quickly gratifying guitar riff, the energized vocals muse through a series of engaging lines and witty quips. With Roy singing the majority of lead vocals in most of the tracks, he does a notably remarkable job in “Mountains of Navaho”. “Except one day we will fly over the seas, over the sky,” he sings in hopes of an unrealistically ideal paradise where love does not clash. “Except one day we will go high in the mountains of Navaho.” Like the other two songs on the EP, the lyrical content remains primarily focused on the aspects of a faltering relationship. As modern British bands currently (and will always) rely on the Kinks for a lyrically sincere influence, the trio relays lyrics that remain sympathetic to the youth of any civilized country, most specifically the UK. With the sincere ability to relate to their target audience, it is merely another developed success in a long string of them for Scouting For Girls.

While It’s Not You only features three songs and barely exceeds ten minutes in overall length, the reception has certainly been impressive. The sales of It’s Not About You are reflective of my high regards for the blossoming trio and, as of today, the EP is #31 in the charts. “If you were in Leicester Square last Sunday you may have seen three lads hunched round a radio jumping around like proper lunatics,” Roy wrote in response to the prominent placement. “It was a fairly indescribable feeling.” This comes after their signing to Epic Records a few months ago; one of the first labels that took the band’s palpably enjoyable methods to heart. Recognizing a band that were bound for global radio airwaves, Scouting For Girls’ big break coincidentally came when the signing occurred on Valentine’s Day. A bit ironic considering their strained, though occasionally optimistic, view on romance and love in general. While “It’s Not About You” is already earning the most national recognition with a video and a slew of promotions, my favorite remains “Mountains of Navaho”. While the style will sound fairly typical to fans of Blur, Supergrass, or other 90s Brit-pop, it remains impressive that Scouting For Girls sounds so musically mature on their debut. While most bands scatter several songs of varying styles on a debut in search of their style, Scouting For Girls are abruptly decisive and appear settled on an amiable sound. Scouting For Girls reminds me of Blur in more ways than one, most particularly their desire to remain wholeheartedly and vocally English while still relaying a universally enjoyable sound. As the sales of their EP have indicated, the public is rightfully eating their material up. Quite honestly, barring a break-up, this will not be the last time you will hear about Scouting For Girls. In fact, you will most likely end up hearing about them so much that you will eventually get sick of them. I recommend that, for the time being, enjoy it is as much as you can.

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Scouting For Girls – Mountains of Navaho

[audio:https://obscuresound.com/mp3/scoutgir-mou.mp3]

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Scouting For Girls – It’s Not About You

[audio:https://obscuresound.com/mp3/scoutgir-its.mp3]

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Scouting For Girls – Keep On Walking

[audio:https://obscuresound.com/mp3/scoutgir-kee.mp3]

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].