Psychic Dance Routine by Scowl album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions


Psychic Dance Routine


Since forming in 2019, Santa Cruz outfit, Scowl, have sidestepped the perception of what it is to be a hardcore band. Across their two EPs ‘Scowl’ and ‘Reality After Reality’, and debut album ‘How Flowers Grow’, the group have made quite the name for themselves, which has landed them high-profile support slots and spots on festival bills like Coachella, Reading & Leeds and Outbreak. With their forthcoming EP ‘Psychic Dance Routine’, the foursome have continued the expansion of their sound while still staying true to their punk roots.

‘Psychic Dance Routine’ is a formidable collision of brutal hardcore and more infectious, melodic hooks that convey an astute pop sensibility. On a very recent episode of Records in my Life with this very website, the four piece cited a proud range of albums that have influenced them as a unit and as individuals. When you consider the likes of Black Flag and Gorilla Biscuits were mentioned in the same breath as Olivia Rodrigo and Avril Lavigne, it’s no wonder Scowl’s latest release packs a guttural wallop with an unshakeable catchiness. ‘Shot Down’ announces Scowl’s 5 track EP with a snarl of frenzied riffs, rampant drums and Kat Moss’ demonic howl. Given how acidic the group’s vocalist sounds during the EP’s opening moments, the switch of gears to a tunefully sung chorus comes as quite the left turn. The jump to a more straightforward rock sound is in no way jarring and as the group slide between hardcore and the grungier end of the spectrum, they do so with ease. Up next, the EP’s eponymous track is a much darker, slinkier affair that evokes the rougher end of 90s alt-rock as it sashays at a menacing crawl. Moss opts for an entirely sung delivery, which further exemplifies the song’s sultry stance. Thematically the track challenges the perspective of the self as well as being a female in a male dominated industry, which is typified by “she’ll never be your animal/she’s got her own personal hell.” ‘Wired’ carries on the darker tone but with hardcore’s harshness back on the menu. With an almost horror movie-like penchant, and despite the slower pace, the song is punchy and intimidatingly violent. Seemingly the song’s modus operandi is calling out narcissists glued to their phones instead of engaging with the world around them “starring at a screen instead of talking to me/I don’t want a wasted life” strikes that nail firmly on the head. Big, anthemic and chocked full of hooks ‘Opening Night’ is a quintessentially perfect pop-rock song but with sharpened fangs ready to strike at any moment. This is where Moss documents the Groundhog Day facsimile life of going from van to venue on constant repeat until life becomes a blur. Equally it deals with the peculiarity of looking out into the crowds and seeing faces from their past, which according to the band’s mouthpiece is “quite shocking.” ‘Psychic Dance Routine’ is brought to a frantic close by ‘Sold’s equally blistering and brutal hardcore, that’s squished into one minute and 32 seconds. While ragged guitars and pounding drums manifest an ungodly melee, Moss wastes little time in venting her vitriol “I can’t stand the way you talk to me” like someone hellbent on seeking bitter vengeance.

With ‘Psychic Dance Routine’, Scowl are proving that heaviness and catchiness make quite the winning combination and like a deadly one-two knockout blow, the group’s latest EP is coming out swinging.

Pre-order Psychic Dance Routine by Scowl HERE


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