Love Is Symmetry

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On their third album, Love Is Symmetry, Scanners put aside the rawer sound of Violence Is Golden and Submarine for lavish productions and arrangements that take their music to a new level. While the almost scrappy feel of the band's previous work was a part of its charm, more often than not Scanners seem comfortable in their new digs, allowing them to play with different sounds. They've always been an eclectic band, doing several different things well to the point where it's hard to pigeonhole them; Love Is Symmetry reins in this tendency, but only a little. In the first three tracks alone, they bounce from the title track's smoky post-punk to the fizz-bomb pop of "Control" to the anthemic "Mexico," which recalls the Arcade Fire in its slow-building drama and urgent acoustic strumming. Along with the expansive production, the strong melodies that dominate these songs -- and the rest of Love Is Symmetry -- keep things from feeling too scattered. Scanners do focus more on their ballads and theatrical tendencies, which they've had a flair for since the Violence Is Golden days; while their punky side is missed, it's understandable that they chose to focus on songs that would make the most of the album's big sound. Indeed, they go big on almost every song here, chief among them "Charmed Life" and "State of Wonder," though the vulnerability that peeks through songs like "A Smile on Both Your Faces" and "My Streets Are Always in the Shade" and the oddness lurking around the fringes of "Side Effects" make for even more compelling listening. While Scanners don't emphasize the louder, quirkier side of their music, it still provides some of the album's highlights, particularly the sleek electro-pop of "Today Is the Tomorrow That They Promised Yesterday" and the brassy "I Couldn't Help Myself." At times, Love Is Symmetry lacks the intimacy that previously sparked some of the band's best music, but it offers one of Scanners' best balances of wide-ranging songs and widescreen sounds.

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