Sometimes I like to go back to a song I love, dissect it and fall back in love with it. Four years ago I first heard Scarlet by 2:54, and what I heard reinforced my love for them after hearing one of their early demos, On A Wire a year or so before. Some bands you just fall in love with on first listen and what happens afterwards needs no explanation. In this case, I feel the need to try explain what it is about Scarlet that resonated with me four years ago and how it still means something.
What drew me to 2:54 about 5 years ago was the music. It had tame hints of Noothgrush and Sleep. The darkness of Melvins and the hypnotic sounds of Siouxsie. Colette’s voice reminded me of hearing Patti Smith and Garbage for the first time. The sound coming out of Hannah’s guitar took me back to hearing Seventeen Seconds by The Cure many years ago. I was being thrown back but into something completely new, and it turns out that they would become more than just another band to me.
I found 2:54’s music by accident, like most bands I’ve come to love. Their debut record was released at a time in my life where everything was a bit bleak and I was unsure of my affections until it was too late. I found parts of me in their songs that I tried to explain but in the end, I lost. What I lost was bigger than me, and there’s a wealth of blame on my shoulders that for some reason, keeps me going. Our fuck ups makes us human. Easy Undercover had a few lines that hit me in the face, sometimes a song acts as a mirror and that’s what happened. It was pointed out to me, and when I hear “If you go, you’ll never know” I am right back there. I no longer mind because music is greater than an emotion.
Scarlet was their first big song, and the video emulated everything I loved about A Forest by The Cure. The video has this gorgeous yet haunting feel to it. You felt like you had entered somewhere you probably shouldn’t and the song made you feel as if you had fallen for someone who was bad for you, but you went along with it any way. I can relate to being the bad one, or at least I used to. We all have it in us, and sometimes it slips out. Good can overrule though, if you let it. With this song you feel as if, and stay with me on this, that it isn’t really a song at all. I know most songs do tell a story and the like, but Colette (I’m assuming she did the lyrics) has created a world in this song. A world that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into the depths of the underworld and partaking in some kind of forbidden love/lust affair. Without sounding like a right dick, it does have a real Goth feeling about it. I mean in the true meaning of the world- not wearing black clothes reciting dark poetry to waken the mind. Maybe it’s just me but this song takes me to a place and not a person. The images in my mind are the Gothic buildings that are found in Brussels etc. Cold but inviting buildings that tower over us. As we step in, this forbidden love(r) greats us.
I could be massively wrong with how I’m interpreting the song, but I get the same images and feelings constantly. You find this person who gets into your veins and bones. They bring you to life, but you’re fully aware of the bad. You want the bad and torment. Or maybe you want to be the tormentor bringing this feeling. Try both and make up your mind. Neither make you bad. As you swirl, dive and float in this underworld that this song creates in your mind you can’t help but let it fully take you over. In some respects, the whole record makes you feel like this. Scarlet was the song that turned a lot on to 2:54 and really- there couldn’t have been a better choice. Each song on their first record seems to float around it. You listen to any song after Scarlet and it all fits perfectly.
I’ve only seen them perform Scarlet live a few times, and my memory is taking me back to Manchester earlier this year. At the end of the song the band went into this instrumental that just blew my mind. It was like when Warpaint really let go to Elephants and everyone goes bananas. It was such a highlight for me because it showed just how vital each member of 2:54 are. At this point, words weren’t needed. The thrashing of instruments fully showcased how brilliant they are. Of course I would happily go to every show they ever do (money isn’t my friend) just to experience this moment on a loop and to see how others react to it. It’s a real feel good experience that just leaves you wishing you could do that.
Back slightly to what I said about the song seeming like a story. It reads like a poem. The kind of poem you can pick apart and use lines to express any lustful feeling. It has innocence to it, but the darker side of it is what should lure you in. The words are made up of curious phrases and I think that’s what set my mind off when I first heard the song. It’s a grand sounding song. Everything fits perfectly with the lyrics, and the video really does add to the mood of the song. Whether you watch the video, see it live or listen to it, there are so many elements to this song that can move you. The song is perfect to listen to in the cold weather whilst going for a walk with a threatening grey sky above you. The inevitable downpour doesn’t phase you, you’re too busy getting lost in what you can hear.
If a song can do this much in such a short amount of time, I’m pretty sure that when I go back and listen to it in 20 years or so I’ll still get the same feelings and images. There’s much more I could say about this song but I am now risking sounding like a total loon by going on about it as much as this. I guess, in short, I just really adore this song.