The American Scene are a four-piece, Emo-Punk outfit from California. Safe For Now is their fantastic second record, solidifying their presence in the underground scene with contemporaries like Daytrader and Daybreaker, with whom the band recently released a split.
Safe For Now is an album that makes one feel. Right away, with the amazingly catchy and deep Just Say It, TAS use a Math-Rock-y riff that catches the listener off guard, but pulls him back in immediately with a rolling bass and crashing cymbals. While the verses are loud, the chorus decrescendos into piano, a tambourine, and a singular voice, spunkily singing, “Are you afraid of the end? / Are you afraid of the end of everything? / I’m not afraid of the end, no / I’m not afraid of the ending of anything”. These few lines lyrically provide the overture of the album: a fearlessly personal break-up record that only resonates more with each listen.
Blood Orange removes the arithmetic from Just Say It for some power chords that ground the song into a more traditional Emo anthem. While the music change shows the breadth of TAS’s sound, the theme remains the same with the neo-Shakespearean insult in the chorus: “If this is what you call love, / well then I’ve had enough. / The space between you and me / weighs more than your company.” While Just Say It leaves one with the feeling of powerlessness in the end of a relationship, Blood Orange shows the side of the one wishing to end it.
Hungry Hands pulls another reversal over a descending riff that crescendos at the chorus into a rough truth: “I could feel you pulling / so slow and so steady, / away from me.” This side shows the member of the relationship who wishes to fix and continue it, futilely. Fifth And Natoma continues the emotion and honesty found in Hungry Hands. Over softly played minor chords, the words “I tried so hard not to hurt you, / but the best laid plans are still just that” are almost cried out of the narrator’s pain for letting down his muse. One feels as bad for the dumpee in Hungry Hands as one feels for the screw-up of Fifth And Natoma.
Untitled, the (now-clichéd) acoustic track of the album, comes in after 24 minutes of Punk Rock, Emo-heaven. It’s a stripped-down ballad about losing everything and everyone in one’s life. While the rest of Safe For Now can be called emotional, Untitled is easily the saddest song of the ten, for better or worse. But rather than feeling bad for the narrator as one does in Hungry Hands and Fifth And Natoma, here the voice just comes across as somewhat pitiful.
The album closes its short, just-under-34-minute runtime with the one-two punch of Used To You and Safe For Now. Used To You brings the tempo back up and gives a hopeful tinge in the album’s ending: “But if you try, I think you might / find something here that’s worth the fight. / There still could be anything, / anything that you need.” The eponymous closer balances out the hope of the penultimate song (this is, after all, an Emo record). The lyrics of Safe For Now create a sensual texture of physical surroundings and feelings that are similarly found in Fifth And Natoma, creating yet another reappearing theme. While the senses are evoked, the mind and heart are touched by the narrator not yet ready to let go of his beloved.
Safe For Now is nigh-perfect, save for the slight misstep of the acoustic Untitled. While not a bad song in the slightest, it just does not evoke the same emotion that carries the rest of the record into its listeners’ hearts. Fortunately enough, though, the track doesn’t last long enough to bring down what was set up during the rest of the album.
Written by Joe Wasserman