Album Review: Green Seagull – Scarlet Fever


Source: album artwork by Sara Gossett

Words by Gareth Thompson

Sitar chords, colour therapy, a grieving lover and a most unusual comma. “Paint It, Black” has spawned many theories and appraisals since its 1966 release. Now adding to the pile comes Green Seagull, a new London act with a fine flair for psych songs. Their name is derived from mishearing Jagger sing the line ‘No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue’. A-Bomb Baby, Migraine Seagull, Red Dog and Summer Crows are other audio mishaps that might come from the same track.

But when it comes to their own music, Green Seagull are loud and crisply clear. We’re talking brevity here, with most songs clocking in at three minutes, max. Scarlet Fever is hardly Ramones territory, but a shared fondness for tight writing is evident.

Paul Nelson and Paul Milne compose and sing to a rigid format throughout. Backing their guitars and vocals are Sarah Gonputh who delivers trippy keyboard lines and Elian Dalmasso on drums, who subtly propels and cajoles each piece.

Green Seagull

These are songs more akin to uppers than downers. Which isn’t to say they lack hypnotic effect, but Green Seagull mostly wanna get you dancing, not trancing. Writing in this close harmony mode, with jangly baroque tints, draws some obvious comparisons. The Kinks and The Electric Prunes come to mind, but a streetwise edge found in The Coral or Inspiral Carpets is worth allowing for. Among their contemporaries you’re thinking Violet Woods and The Dials, along with US acts like Apropos.

Thankfully bereft of lame music hall motifs, Scarlet Fever sets an excited pace which rarely lets up. “Not Like You And Me” kicks things off with a stabbing organ, pitched harmonies and a warning to anyone stepping out of line. Social paranoia returns later on “Unseen Eyes” which closely observes those who might be doing something weird. Nelson and Milne write nifty numbers, but crucially they don’t forget those twangy bits between the verses. “Scarlet” has a delirious riff in its tale of lost innocence, and “Remember The Time” is awash with organ flourishes.

Are they going to be pop stars? It won’t be for lack of trying, given the commercial zest of several tracks. “(I Used To Dream In) Black And White” has a warm shroud of voices, not unlike early Alan Parsons Project; “Dogsbody” is a joyous reflection on mortality; “They Just Don’t Know” gets a fuzzy pummeling and “I Live And Let Live” bounces with a nod to Mod.

But there’s moments of retro-mania that you’ll either dig or dodge. “Shrubbery Road” and “Scraggly Old Tramp” both sound like romantic fancies from a lost era of peace and tolerance. Yet both offer more snappy poetry and groovy tunes, so take this impressive debut at face value and it won’t disappoint. Scarlet Fever offers superior song craft by any measure you choose.

Purchase ‘Scarlet Fever’ on limited edition green vinyl here

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