On a scale of musical precision, with one being “calculated to a Newtonian level” and 10 being “an infant blindly slamming on instruments,” Big Scary falls somewhere in the negatives. Every part of the Melbournians’ creative output is locked in at an almost mechanical level, from Joanna Syme’s sometimes poppy drumming, to the guitar/drumming/major production work done by her bandmate, Tom Iansek, to even the camera angles in their mysterious music videos. The careful attention to detail within every layer of every song is plainly noticeable, and listening to something so carefully constructed is comparable to gazing at ancient Roman architecture.
The band bills itself as being genre-bending and widely influenced, and Not Art upholds the reputation by being about as varied as an album can get. Some tracks will have a rhythm that only just skirts by without earning the “dance” label, while others bang like a rock ‘n’ roll song should. Track changes will create seamless flows like the one between the garage-inflected “Belgian Blues” to the slow, dreamy “Phil Collins.” Similarly to acts like The xx, alternations in lead vocals between the two band members from song to song or even within the same one create a male/female dichotomy that introduces a gender-based theme to the material. Track titles like “Why Hip Hop Sucks In ‘13” almost elicit a laugh, despite the serious nature of the content.
Big Scary are also quick to point out that they are not big or scary, but I beg to differ. Impressive things can be scary, and the raw talent and skill for application that the two members display are most impressive about them. Not Art is not scary in the least bit, but the two artists behind it are absolutely horrifying.