Dumping its paintbrushes and sculpting clay in favor of guitars, the U.K. art school quartet Ikara Colt endorses minimalism on its debut album. With traces of legends like the Fall, Wire, and early Sonic Youth, the group conjures up notions of avant punk's past, while managing to carve out an identity of its own through the exhilarating racket found on "Chat and Business."
The forceful rhythm beneath the disc opening chaos of "One Note" comes courtesy of bassist Jon Ball and drummer Dominic Young; and it's really all it takes to get these dozen songs in gear. Paul Resende's distorted vocals mesh elements of Johnny Rotten's snarl with Mark E. Smith's atonal croak not only here but throughout the album. Claire Ingram's jagged guitar lines tingle spines on the self-descriptive number, while further Fall tinges resonate on "Belgravia," when Ingram adds her vocals to Resende's. Welcome to Ikara's wonderful and frightening world.
"Sink Venice" speeds along like the thoroughbred horse that begat the outfit's unique moniker, resulting in a powerful and exciting three minutes that sketches Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation." Elsewhere, angular riffs drive "Here We Go Again" and "After This," as Resende's indecipherable microphone work supports the theory that it isn't what you sing, it's how you sing it.
180 degrees away from the subdued sounds of U.K. chart dominators like Travis and Coldplay, Ikara Colt will give Anglophiles alike a shot in the arm with "Chart and Business." It's not easily digestible ear candy and does take a number of spins to reveal its charms. But by pulling from alt rock's elite past to concoct its own primitive magic, Ikara Colt has come up with a rock solid first album.
-John D. Luerssen
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