Ikons – Life Rhythm
Maybe it’s the cold, the long dark winters, or the isolation that does it, but Scandinavia digs shoe-gazing. There have been some awesome exponents of the genre in recent years and they’ve clearly influenced this sophomore release by Gothenburg-based Ikons. Influence never verges into imitation though; this album is uniquely derivative to the point of being genre-creating.
There’s a touch of tongue-in-cheek humility around Ikons, with opening track ‘Just Gazin’’ a whole lot more than its title claims it to be, with the seven-piece band kicking off on fuzzy rhythms and sharp lead guitars, synths and an understated vocal that floats alongside the music.
The list of bands that echo throughout ‘Life Rhythm’ like ghosts runs like a who’s who of musical progression through the twenty-year period between 1980 and 2000. There’s My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Neu!, Jesus & Mary Chain, Spiritualized; it even strays into Lemon Jelly territory on ‘Free Spirit’ – which should sound out of place but it’s woven so carefully into the fabric of the release that it feels like it belongs. In fact, this sample-laden track sees a natural progression from 80s fuzz to electronica. It’s as if we’re entering a second act.
Concretes-esque Scandi-pop finds its place too on ‘Bye Bye Bye’ where the low-range Jason Pierce-esque vocal harmonises beautifully with a guest female voice, while brass swells in the background. This track is a catalyst to a slower third act, where indie love songs with gentle, echoing guitar melodies emerge as if from a thawing winter.
It changes so much it shouldn’t work as an album, but with a solid backbone centred on a steady rhythm and fuzzy guitars, there is a wall onto which the band have thrown tracks from multiple genres and seen them hang there like individual works of art. There’s a feeling the band hugely enjoyed recording this album, and that leads to the only minor irritation – whether it be their doing or the producer’s – some tracks, particularly during instrumental sections, just go on a little longer than they need to, and it stilts the pace. Coming in at 46 minutes, it’s not like it’s over-indulgent, but by the time the country-soaked instrumental ‘Tranströming’ segues into album closer ‘Revolve’, there’s a sense of relief.
Huge and uplifting, ‘Life Rhythm’ is a perfectly named album, which can capture moods, change them, and send you back whatever period you fancy getting nostalgic about, while still sounding utterly fresh and original.
Life Rhythm will be released on July 2nd via Service.
Posted by Kevin Scott
Tags: 2012, album review, Ikons, Kevin Scott, Life Rhythm, shoegaze, Swedish