First, let’s just take stock of what an icon is. Isn’t it someone who has made some historical impact, who defines their era by their deeds? Someone who shocks; who introduces new modes of expression? Well, don’t expect any of that from Ikons, a wishy-washy indiepop band surely modelled on Madchester also-rans The Mock Turtles. They are purveyors of an unengaging jangle-pop that coughs up the expect(or)ations of dope-blunted, unambitious teens.
What you have on Life Rhythm is a bit of 12-string Byrdsian strumming, pedestrian rhythms and the expected power chords. All this seems to be pleasantly transcribed via a trad studio recording. Usually this gives a polished depth and gentleness that we truly love, but here it does nothing to redeem Ikons’ seemingly throwaway mannerisms. Like Captured Tracks’ Mike Sniper told us recently, real drums sound crap if you don’t take the time to experiment.
We live in truly unlocked times in terms of music production. Look at Zammuto – real recordings, well chosen and treated, with amazing locked-in performances that say something, and yet they are at the very cutting edge of techy editing too. All Life Rhythm does is poke its finger in a pool of memories.
Ikons give me the curious, all at sea feeling that I remember from 1990. The over-grandiose pop of Echo and the Bunnymen et al couldn’t compete with the incipient rave scene. Chart music was at the height of its most plastic, soulless period. It was clearly a time to strip things back, and whilst some took it down to the brickwork of the Roland 909 and 303, another response was to simply mine the past. The likes of Oasis, Primal Scream and The La’s were the stone cladding of rock.
Which returns us to Ikons. Remade, reworked, respun, the ersatz 60’s return again. One other thing: Polaroid Cocaine, Free Spirit, these are tragic song titles no? Anyone involved who ok’d or ignored these titles needs to wake up. Wake up!!