Part of me wants to hate The Icarus Line no matter what they release (I'll spare you the details). The other part of me happily revels in TIL's obnoxious, in-your-face antics, which leave bar owners crappin' their drawers when the band comes to play. The Line has honed its angular guitar rock since Mono
, delivering a post-punk document that mixes the Jesus Lizard's destructive rhythms with the bluesy swagger of The Royal Trux.
The Los Angeles-based band sports an artcore look (the matching black shirts and red ties are hard to ignore), but The Icarus has much more in common with bands hell-bent on a rock 'n' roll revival. "Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers" and "Kiss the Lizards" heap on the guitar as vocalist Joe Cardamone howls like a man possessed, but there's still a thick rock vibe holding the tracks together. The band refuses to stick to simple, repetitive rhythms; the guitars regularly squeal with feedback, humming with distortion as they lay down thick 'n' meaty power chords.
There's diversity here as well. "Party the Baby Off" singes with punk intensity, callously chucking shards of sound at your ears. You can't help but dig Cardamone's droning vocals as he coyly repeats, "Take off all your clothes!" "Getting Bright at Night" slows the pace (and clocks in at over nine minutes), methodically drilling into your soul with lazily plucked bass notes and casually strummed chords. The droning "Meatmaker" has a Killdozer-style bassline, and its muffled zone-out vocals sound like a cross between Iggy and Pink Floyd. It will lose less attentive listeners, but the variety of styles keeps The Icarus Line from sounding like another one-trick, smacked-up art-rock band.
Penance Soirée is smart, but retains a disheveled façade. The Icarus Line's members may look like they're out to wreak havoc on anyone who gets in their way, but the music still comes first when you get down to it. They're confrontational and chock full of attitude, but last time I checked, wasn't that rock 'n' roll's initial concept? There's not a lot of grey area here, so you'll either dig TIL's arrhythmic squalor or hate their effusive and oh-so disrespectful ways. But if that's the case, you just plain hate the rock 'n' roll, don't ya?