by Jason Damas
The punchy pub rock-meets-power pop of the Scooters' debut EP, Peepshow, in no way prepared audiences for what was to come next with their 2002 full-length debut, I Can See Your House From Here. While Peepshow displayed the band's sense of melody and knack for well-crafted songs and solid production, I Can See Your House From Here is a remarkable step ahead in the maturity of the band's songwriting. While they've largely abandoned the punchy pop of their debut EP, with I Can See Your House From Here the Scooters have meticulously crafted a detailed, layered, sadly beautiful album. Gone is the sound of Argybargy-era Squeeze, and in its place the sound has shifted to warm, elegant pop reminiscent of Crowded House's Woodface. As both sounds are really variations on a theme, that may not seem radical, but it exhibits a remarkable amount of growth in a short period of time. Spiked with elegant background vocals and occasional piano and horn flourishes, this is an incredibly laid-back affair. But the Scooters are far from lazy, as their melodic skills have only strengthened with time. So while there is an almost complete absence of rockers here, the gentle acoustic pop of songs like &Guess Who& and &This Is How It Ends& is more immediate and more memorable than anything on their debut. As good as Peepshow was -- and it was a very good debut EP -- it in no way prepared audiences for this gem of a Brit-pop record, one that easily ranks among the best works of Travis and Coldplay.