One thing we often share Matt is a love of poorly-named 00s bands. So, in that spirit, I present to you Ikara Colt. They are one of the bands I most regret never seeing live at the time. I’ve always thought I shouldn’t like them on paper, being a kind of post-punk art school band. But with an emphasis more on the ‘punk’ and the ‘art’ (the album came with ‘arty’ little black and white photo stickers that you could match up to descriptions like “extreme close up, structural detail”), they made an almighty and irresistible racket. This album is worth it for the bass and drum intro to ‘Here We Go Again’ alone. If that song doesn’t get you excited then I guess I’ve failed in my choice here. But then again there is a slower, more brooding and aloof side to this album too with songs like ‘City Of Glass’. It’s not one I come back to often, but I’m always rewarded when I do. Let’s see what you get out of it.
I’ve never even heard of these guys and you’re hitting a lot of keywords here James. I’m excited to try something new that is from the giddy indie heydays of the early 2000s. I’m not going to waffle on top much as I want to dive right in. Lets Go!
And it kicks off just right. The album opener ‘One Note’ is a short punchy number. The first thing that jumps out is the drums that sound like they’ve been sped up 1.5x. They are machine-like, propel the distorted guitars and vocals bounce along. It’s a little heavier then I was expecting but I’m on board.
The following tracks ‘Rudd’ and ‘Bishop’s Son’ follow a more expected trajectory, as the drums sit back a little more into a conventional pace. I’m still enjoying it, but I was initially very excited about how different the drums sounded. They’re still heavy hitting and fast. But not quite as unique.
At this point Spotify gets angry that I’m not in the UK, and wont let me play the rest of the album. Not good. A quick change of laptops, and a hop on to a VPN so I can pretend I’m sat in Greenwich (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and we’re back in business.
While I was fiddling with these tech issues, the warm fuzz that is draped over everything in the opening songs has me thinking of Nine Black Alps. A band I loved. So this album is not in bad company.
So as we jump back in they take the tempo down another gear, as ‘City of Glass’ meanders and oozes out of the speakers. The vocals and bass are at the forefront for this, and though I do like the bass, I don’t think his singing voice or lyrics are that exciting. It all feels like they want to be Placebo. And they definitely aren’t. Next song please.
The drums are back! ‘Pop group’ kicked me out of my boredom quickly with a zany sounding guitar, and what you can already tell is my favourite feature of this band: relentless drumming. This carries on into ‘Belgravia’ and ‘Sink Venice’, which both have some really fun backing vocals.
‘After This’ sees the return to conventional 00s alt rock, which is fine. As does, ‘At the Lodge’, though it did get me excited when it started with a click track. That diversion though is quickly dropped.
‘Here We Go Again’ kicks off with a very notable intro as James mentioned, as the bass leads the charge. It almost sounds like a Joy Division cut. The bass is just slightly more tense than Peter Hook’s signature loose style. As we power through the intro into the body of the song it remains hugely dynamic, as all the positive aspects of their songs thus far come together: high energy drumming, sparse guitar ,backing vocals, wall to wall fuzz. A definite highpoint.
Maybe it’s been there the whole time, or maybe I’m just alert to it now, but the post-punk undertones in ‘May B 1 Day’ are very strong. Another good song. Then we sign off with the shouty mess that is ‘Video Clip Show’. And it’s over in no time at all.
So what’s the verdict? You can probably tell I really enjoyed this weirdly parallel trip down memory lane. It all feels very of it’s time, but as it is new to me the nostalgia is mixed with some excitement of discovery. There were lots of great twists on a genre and moment in music I know all too well. That said, though I had a lot of fun, for those of you who aren’t already deep into the Art Rock Post-Punk of the early 2000s I’m not sure if this will be the record that will change your mind about it.
Words by Matt Paul and James Spearing