Is there any better reception for your new release than the anticipation and ruckus of a sold-out hometown gig? Perhaps not. Scott Mac marked this 21st Century Romance in Belfast’s Black Box this September. In the face of COVID and the associated uncertainty over the industry’s direction these past two years, and with this summer’s singles On My Mind and They Don’t Really Know You (Like I Do) being released in that time not so long ago when such gigs felt like historical events, Belfast’s enthusiasm for this EP is palpable.
Lead Single On Your Mind showed early promise, upon its release in July, giving the artist’s sound a groovy edge that wouldn’t feel out of place in the large outdoor arenas of the festival circuit that characterised this summer for so many of us. Sonically, this demonstrates evolution on Scott Mac’s part; his lyricism is equal parts self-aware and self-deprecating, his storytelling is characteristically strong, using powerful imagery to navigate challenging themes of insecurity and uncertainty in a relationship.
Latest single They Don’t Really Know You (Like I Do) offered a totally different side to the artists’ talents. Where the former was reminiscent of his pop-rock contemporaries such as Picture This or Maisie Peters, They Don’t… feels nostalgic for the sound of the Belfast gigs we grew up with; his distinctly Northern Irish intonation pairs perfectly with the punky guitar driven riffs of the song. The artist’s ability to take influence from such a broad range of genres and decades so early in his career is formidable, and the result is a distinct and yet accessible sound that is a pleasure to listen to.
Sleep On My Own, the first brand new song of the release, offers a more dulcet tone to the EP. Thematically, it explores the melodramatics of isolation and loneliness as a relationship ends. A primarily acoustic song, Sleep On My Own feels sonically very close to the pop-rock singer-songwriters of the noughties, namely MIKA or Paolo Nutini, but still retains the artists’ autonomy, utilising synthesisers and a unique production style to bring the familiar sounds of the past into the present, and make us all the more excited for Mr Mac’s future.
The EP’s conclusion comes with the anthemic Mr. Incredible, the title itself nodding to the noughties through namedropping 2004 Pixar Animated Film ‘The Incredibles’ protagonist. The vocal range demonstrated throughout the song is indeed incredible, in the verses, we first hear his impressive falsetto, all while exploring personal vulnerability through the lyrics. Juxtaposed with this, the chorus’ return to Scott Mac’s comfort zone with the stylistically familiar pop-rock beats, catchy lyrics and the relatively short song brings the EP full circle in a clean cut, sharp manner.
With releases like this, I don’t think our 21st Century Romance with Scott Mac will be ending any time soon.