Anglo French (and English) duo Scenius are back with their second long player, the follow-up to 2020’s “Enough Fears”. While some commentators are still (IMO) mistaking their genre of Post/Punk, Dark/Wave (see Steve Witfield’s other musical outlet Klammer), and this collection is steeped in the finery of the early 80’s Synth/Pop and New Romanticism, with Electronica moments aplenty. Their time Post/Lockdown has not been idly wasted as these ten tracks would attest to.

Lead track “Life Is A Thing Again” opens this collection with a mesmerising click-beat intro before Fabrice’s notable French parlez softly and gently makes itself heard. As the song elevates and develops there’s a distinct 80’s synth sound that comes into play then evaporates in an instant. The vocals are clear and audible while the bleeps and loops hold one’s interest. It’s cinematic, atmospheric even with the keys holding the main emphasis.

“A Million To Go” opens with a single key intro that gives way to a synth part that one Vince Clark would be proud of! That synth is truly infectious, allied to a perfect vocal accompaniment. The bridge is catchy as hell as the keys/synths take different directions throughout, but return to the main beat.

Promo single “High Low” has an intro loop that initially reminds me of the Laurie Anderson song “Oh Superman”, but the similarities end there! It’s an earworm of a piece that you just can’t get out of your head! Fab’s vocal announces itself early doors, clean and clear. As the songs builds the vocal layering comes to the fore as the synth sound starts to add intricate notes at random intervals. But it’s that catchy synth sound that opens the song that is the overriding element here. Latterly Steve (Whitfield) expands the electronica and plays around with sampling which displays more than a nod to the 80’s Synth bands that they clearly take influence from. It’s a song that at over four minute’s duration, I would suggest keeps the listener guessing…

“La Meme Nuit” (The Same Night) – yes, I admit to a Google search! This is quite a departure from the previous three tracks, notably as it’s largely delivered in Fabrice’s native tongue. That vocal is subtle in the extreme while the musical element has an eerie feel of ‘underground Parisienne clubs’; mid 80’s, smoke filled, with an heir of menace. It’s that point of difference that makes this cut stand out from the rest of the tracks on here. There’s elements of Depeche Mode’s finest work from their darker period, notably in the keys/synths which I guess is a great place to seek inspiration.

“Hindsight” opens with a chiming intro piece that just nestles itself into one’s consciousness. Just when we think it’s the token instrumental, Fab’s wonderful vocals subtly make themselves known. His vocal layering is the perfect foil for the ever present chimes which distinguish themselves throughout.

Recent single “Chinese Room” sees a return to the more familiar, with more than a nod to Visage (to my ears)! Those infectious synths scream early 80’s Blitz club era while Fab’s vocals take somewhat of a back seat as the musicality of the song takes centre stage. That unmistakable basement club ambience and atmospheric feel sets the scene as the song meanders to its conclusion.

“Escalation” is an uplifting track that wouldn’t be out of place on daytime radio. The vocals are wonderfully audible over truly infectious keys throughout. One could be forgiven for thinking Andy McCluskey (OMD) is depping on lead vocals, such is the similarity. This is early 80’s Electronica at its very finest and (for this reviewer) the standout track on this collection.

“Moon Fall” keeps the tempo high as the latter part of this album continues to uplift. The keys become more expansive while the vocal layering displays a confidence not heard on earlier tracks. I’m actually hearing more than a nod to Tim Booth (James), but any Indie influence ends there – this is a song steeped in the early 80’s (pre-New Romantics).

“Rise Above” drops the tempo with a slower, measured feel and vocal slant to match. Haunting, cinematic soundscapes in the bridge give rise to a weird almost Gothic ending. I have no clue as to the lyrical content but it doesn’t disappoint…


There’s something about the intro to “Hot Dust” that reminds me of the soundtrack to “A Clockwork Orange”, but those thoughts soon evaporate as the song veers more towards Tubeway Army territory. Once more I’m drawn to atmospheric soundscapes akin to futuristic cinema soundtracks, this is music to be played loud in large auditoriums where it can be truly appreciated.

Life Is A Thing is an album steeped in all the finest elements of the past, without compromising the present. Taking/borrowing influences is nothing new but there’s enough here to garner a new audience for this band as the clamour for anything ‘Retro’ is to be preferred to the mundane and boring ‘Pop’ offerings of our current music scene. What sets Scenius apart from the crowd is that as a duo they seem to be able to create musically what most ‘bands’ struggle to achieve collectively. There’s clearly plenty in the tank but these songs need to be heard in the live arena. I would suggest a support tour with a ‘big name’ artist might push their trajectory as I feel these songs are too strong to only be enjoyed in basement clubs and small venues. I guess we shall just have to wait and see, but after just two listens this album is definitely a grower!

Life Is A Thing Again
A Million To Go
High Low
La Même Nuit
Chinese Room
Moon Fall
Rise Above
Hot Dust

Purchase the album here.

ref” target=”_new”>

Review by Ross A. Ferrone