Old timers will tell you that they saw the first incarnation of Scrawl way back in 1985. I was only a sophomore in high school living just a few hours north of where the historic first shows were allegedly taking place in Columbus, Ohio. Since then, this unpretentious trio has been cranking out a record every three years. After a series of record label disasters, during which time Scrawl’s records were swept away by the momentum of bankruptcy (in the case of Rough Trade). The band made the jump to Elektra hoping to feel the effects of a major radio promotion department, instead the record came out and then rapidly disappeared. Maybe it was because the record didn’t really represent what the band was all about, becoming harder and less melodic than their previous records.
The real beauty of Scrawl has always been their combination of sweet acoustic-based tunes and straight forward proto-punk anthems. Unlike the guitar and scream laden music of bland girl bands like Veruca Salt, Scrawl are able to successfully walk the line between straight noise and playful pop.
“Nature Film” is a whimsical collection of remastered old favorites (“Charles” and “Rot”) and a few new tunes, which helps the band to redeem itself after their underwhelming major label debut, “Travel On Rider.” Produced by indie stalwart Tim O’Heir, “Nature Film” is an album that showcases both the band’s gentle pop sensibilities on new songs such as “Don’t Always Get There” and “Nature Film,” while shifting gears towards Scrawl’s trademark brand of melodic punk. Much of what has always made Scrawl so catchy is the ability of singer Marcy Mays to infuse her strong sexy vocals into a harder, rougher rock exterior.
This album might never reach the masses like Veruca Salt’s “Seether” single, but then again, who cares. Scrawl are a band who write good songs, tour every once in a while and have a loyal fan base. I suppose it’s possible Elektra can make MTV look and listen to this band, but even if they don’t “Nature Film” is the comeback record Scrawl fans have been waiting for.