Deleted Scenes doesn’t seem to know how to make music without wearing its heart on its sleeve. On Lithium Burn, the group’s third full-length album, the band hits on a nagging nostalgia that feels like careening into adulthood while embracing the wonder you’re not supposed to hold on to.
Their sound is concentrated into a more mature and intentional grouping of songs than fans have previously heard. As elegant as it is on edge, Lithium Burn opens with “Haircuts/Uniforms,” a theatrical and off-kilter track that showcases vocalist Dan Scheurman belting an all-out falsetto. He takes momentary pause in the fleeting choruses to reassure listeners, “Be not afraid/We know the way/Sheared like a lamb/Thrown in the fray/Be not afraid.”
Backed up by accompaniment that drifts smoothly from discordant guitar notes, which accent the right and wrong harmonies at the same time, to soaring synthesizers, the hysteria induced in a song like “Haircuts/Uniforms” is juxtaposed by the more mellowed cuts that follow.
Lithium Burn is punctuated with unstable ballads like “Landfall” and “House of Dust,” tunes that roil with malaise and rocket toward their own respective conclusions.
Lulling listeners into a kind of electro-psychosis, Deleted Scenes succeed in building these more subtle tracks up from their eerily memorable base progressions to interesting heights that capture the real magic mechanism behind the music—the band’s ability to show restraint even amidst a cascade of texturing and insistent songwriting.
Sometimes spastic enough to inspire an aural double take—like on “Stutter,” the album’s first single that swings manically from a jazzy shuffle on its bittersweet choruses to a faltering, percussive stammer on its verses—Lithium Burn still manages to display a sensitivity through fragile and intimate transmissions.
On the brooding and mechanical “You Get to Say Whatever You Want,” a fuzzy, feedbacking guitar whines over lyrics that strain, “I won’t bite my tongue/I won’t let you have this one/You shame yourself just fine, you don’t need my help/But don’t be shocked when all alone is not what you had thought,” in a tone that’s equal parts resigned and spiteful.
Expounding on the tone set in previous releases, Lithium Burn contains its fair share of keyboard-driven tunes rather than both guitars taking all opportunities available to jockey for notes. One of the band’s most consistently creative and insistently engaging elements is its rhythmic dynamic.
Classical hooks that leapfrog at the listener one after the other—notably on “Let’s Not Try to Fix Everything at Once”—feel fresh as they are reshuffled with subtle layering. The fashion through which the group decorates its sometimes dizzying key changes is characteristic throughout Lithium Burn, as is the way it employs subtle rhythmic or tonal changes to differentiate components of each song from one another. “Caught In the Brights” exemplifies this, as the players flirt with schizophrenia while the track fades out.
While Lithium Burn does implore listeners to sit for a time with its ebb and flow of electronic-informed, experimental post-rock, casual listeners and returning fans alike will find that Deleted Scenes’ latest effort documents new and more original musical depths for a band whose sound solidifies with each release, making it one of the most solid full-length compositions we’ve seen so far this year.
Deleted Scenes – Lithium Burn tracklist:
- “Caught In the Brights”
- “Let’s Not Try to Fix Everything At Once”
- “House of Dust”
- “Seasons of the Wire”
- “Teenage Kids”
- “Tell Me a Secret”
- “You Get to Say Whatever You Want”