Scrawl

Nature Film

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It was fitting for the bad-luck Scrawl that Nature Film's artwork included the intended street date of "05-12-1998" -- it wasn't released until a week later. Aware of the likelihood that it would be their last record for Elektra, Scrawl smartly opted to offer as few new songs as possible to the label. Why bake a cake for a partner who's mistreating you, knowing that you can save it for someone who actually deserves it? With that frame of mind Nature Film should be the sound of a band not giving their all, simply going through the motions. That isn't the case -- despite half of the record being actual new material, it's the band's second-best album. They had kept old material from the Rough Trade days in their live repertoire; through years of sporadic gigging, songs like "Rot" and "For Your Sister" turned from good to fantastic, and literally none of their fans could find pre-Bloodsucker releases in the stores. "Standing Around," "Charles," "11:59 It's January," and "Clock Song" also get powerful updates, finally capturing the band's live edge on tape. Most noticeable is drummer Dana Marshall's contributions to the older material. Marshall joined after Bloodsucker. More agile and forceful than earlier drummer Carolyn O' Leary, Marshall's style and advanced musicianship are more complementary to the band. The record isn't just a good trawl through the past -- the six new songs lack nothing in vitality. Bad relationships are still the forte of Marcy Mays' songwriting, who manages to keep it fresh; "You Made It a Crime" is scornful, "100 Car Pile-Up" is shameless rage, and "Guess I'll Wait" is empty resignation. Top it off with a storming cover of PiL's "Public Image," and there you have it: another great record from Columbus' finest.

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