CHAT AND BUSINESS
Like many of the best British rock imports, Ikara Colt formed when the members met at art school. Their debut album, ''Chat and Business,'' is reason to be thankful that they put down their paintbrushes and picked up guitars. The album is a minimalist wash of guitars, layers of loose-limbed hooks, and thickly reverbed bass lines, over which the vocals of John Ball and Claire Ingram weave in and out with an almost childlike bluntness. The sound is reminiscent of early Sonic Youth, and like their American counterparts, the band has an aggressive earnestness and a sophisticated control of the form that makes even the lo-fi sound and sometimes trancelike repetition of lyrics build powerfully. The album opens with ''One Note,'' which has a driving rhythm and spiky vocals that channel the bile of original Brit punks like Johnny Rotten. Throughout the rest of the album, the vocals sound diffused, as if sung through a kid's telephone made from two soup cans and a length of string. These vocals are joined by jangly guitar that peekaboos from an onslaught of frantically rolled drums on ''Bishop's Son.'' The songs ''Belgravia'' and ''Sink Venice,'' both successful singles in Britain, are catchy art-pop tracks that exemplify the band's sound. Male and female vocals play off each other, joining before the male voice ricochets off for a solo verse, the vocals layered between chiming guitar hooks and loping bass. Ikara Colt may have maintained an art-school sensibility, but these guys have the tough sneer of rock 'n' rollers.
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