There’s quite a lot to be initially apprehensive about when approaching Beyond Recall. Apart from their early single Up, Up! which was a genuine banger, their biggest break came from a largely clunky cover of Flo Rida’s Low which was premiered by frequently reprehensible YouTuber BryanStars. Not the best start then, and a forgettable debut EP didn’t help matters either, but with Selfish Scars, the timing is perfect for a fresh start.
And with an initial listen, this EP seems to achieve that goal somewhat. Digging into it further that proves to be almost completely false (we’ll get to that), but from a purely instrumental standpoint, this is absolutely fine, if imbued with some clumsiness that can be easily ignored. It sticks with a heavier alt-rock canvas most of the time, embellished around the edges with hints of post-hardcore and metalcore, and on tracks like Get It Right which focuses on a straightforward surge, it makes for probably the best track on the EP.
That may be the case, but it’s in its lyrical content that Selfish Scars falls apart without any chance of putting itself back together. The reason comes in the framing, and how drastically skewed it is. Take the first track 140 Characters, a bitchy, catty breakup track that would be fine if it was consistent with the rest of the EP. But in the very next song, the title track, there are emotional pleas and lines like “I’m not the man I thought I could be” that are completely at odds with what precedes it. The thematic dissonance on this EP is immense, and when it comes to these more ‘heartfelt’ tracks, it feels so insincere and flimsy. And when it gets to the final track proper Tomorrow with its synthesised Asking Alexandria-style strings and Charles Bukowski vocal sample discussing the metaphorical presence of love (presumably to add at least some vestige of class), it feels like such a calculated decision to preserve something of a decent image that you won’t want to go back.
But the most potent and egregiously infuriating example is Almost, a track that coasts by on slimy bravado by detailing a relationship where the girl is clearly at the mercy of the narrator who simply doesn’t care, something that actually gets glorified by such toxic framing. It’s a microcosm for why Selfish Scars as an EP feels so wrong, with an overriding chauvinistic sensibility and lyrics like “Once a liar, always a girl” that feel so unfortunately genuine that they can’t even be passed off as parody. And with the frequent references to the internet, and the sad male stereotypes associated with that environment that tend to abide by the confrontational relationship views that are outlined on this EP, there’s a regrettable hunch that Beyond Recall actually subscribe the ideas they’re selling.
That’s a real problem as well, given how dense and out of touch such a mindset makes Selfish Scars feel. There’s musical promise here, but the cringeworthy, unnecessarily immature lyrical focus vastly overshadows that for an EP that just leaves a bad taste in the mouth after listening to it. It’ll be interesting to see if Beyond Recall can recover from this, but considering their career so far has been defined by a list of disappointments, don’t count on it.
For fans of: Fightstar, Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Selfish Scars’ by Beyond Recall is released on 13th January.