Scott Lavene makes music that gets the hair on the back of your neck in standing ovation. It’s electric anticipation, it’s the fear of the come up. It’s poetic and anarchic. It’s light hearted and heavy. It’s light and dark. It’s mischief and it’s honest, it’s the trickster raven with wisdom to share but he isn’t necessarily just going to give it to you straight. That’d be boring wouldn’t it.
The First Time begins with a wacky little wailing on the guitar which sets up the surreal and spun out motif for the song. It’s got a certain twang of the wild west to it, which makes sense for the narrative that unfolds, detailing the long list of first times in Lavene‘s storied life.
When the raucous bass riff that paints the backdrop for the refrain of the verses kicks in it’s an absolute tickler from the very first. It has a real pop stroll to it but it still two-steps its way a little sideways to carry on the slightly unsettling darker undercurrent of the track.
The chorus takes a stomp booted step into a synthy little parallel universe. It exists in a liminal space somewhere between The Specials and The Stranglers, wiggling away to its own unique rhythm with a haunting and poetic lyrical dagger lodged into its heart, still spilling blood and ink, flailing in the wind.
It cannot be stressed enough just how utterly unique and beautifully bizarre Lavene is as both a songwriter and a lyricist. The poetry at the core of the song could easily stand up in its own right and the chorus is stupefying in its simple yet powerful prose.
By the time the end chorus rolls around, you may have settled into this surreal soundscape but it takes a final twist and dials it up a notch to keep you off-footed till the last. It amplifies the message of the song, and it finishes with a joke and a promise on Scott Lavene‘s part that he will never eat a rabbit shit again. This sends home the wry humour that worms it’s way throughout the song.
This song is no exception, all of Milk City Sweetheart the album that The First Time calls home punches this hard both poetically and with powerful post-punk riffery. If you like this, do yourself a favour and head over to the bandcamp to buy the full album.
Words by Matt Miles