Album Reviews

Ikara Colt – Modern Apprentice

(fantastic plastic) UK release date: 7 June 2004

Setting out their noisy stall with 2002’s Chat And Business debut album, these London art-school punks sparked a refreshing sense of hope when all around seemed nu-sports-wangst metal obsessed. Here were four skinny awkward geeks, the new wave of no-wave, busting intense chops with angular post-punk riffing. It was anyone’s guess where they would go next, if they didn’t burn themselves out or implode.

With this follow-up they appear to have lost some of the edgy bile of the first album and replaced it with a more accessible sonic landscape, yet still manages to seethe and surge with fire and vitriol. Since that debut there have been line-up changes within, as the ‘Colts now operate as a two girl/two boy line-up. Produced by Alex Newport (of At The Drive-In fame) their sound teeters on the verge of collapse, retaining a raw live buzz that is laden with hooks.

Tracy Bellaries, provides surging bass as a driving ‘lead’ instrument – much in the same way that Peter Hook’s bass playing rose above mere rhythm section backing. Lead vocalist Paul Resende shows a marked fondness of Mark E. Smith vocal stylings, Dominic Young drums like a man possessed by a spirit of the wired, clipped economy of New Order‘s Stephen Morris and through Claire Ingram’s Riot Grrl vocals and lead guitar duties, they have a ‘Kim’ (Deal or Gordon) indie chick goddess in waiting. They are quite a musical prospect.

The ‘Colts come busting out the stable with opener Wanna Be That Way, the glorious bastard offspring of indie cool and (s)punked-up swagger set to the sounds of prime era Sonic Youth, or The Stooges electro-surging for uncertain modern times. Like the much-underrated Experimental Pop Band, these are the new cool kids of grindcore deathrock, with a solid gold indie record collection.

Not one of these twelve tunes outstays its welcome, and though they may not be chin-strokingly deep, they are fevered thrusts of urgent exclamation. There’s the sleazy electro disco of Modern Feeling complete with sneering Riot Grrl vocal back-up, the frantic blast of dumb shouty I’m With Stupid while Automatic blasts along on a killer Stoogeified stop-start head-banging riff.

Veering away from the bloody-nosed guitar rifferamas they hit the spot in different ways, as on the experimental electro throb of ‘Motorway, to sound more than convincing. Even when the tempo drops as on How’s the World Gonna Take You Now they still brood along magnificently in a manner that suggests life beyond The Fall/Sonic Youth comparisons that they are lumbered with now.

The only criticism to this undoubted blast-furnace classic, is that the homage to their obvious heroes can become a bit predictable, making it feel like a transitional album between the effluents of their influences and striding out fully-formed in their own definitive sound. All too often the downfall is Paul Resende’s Mark E. Smith yelping which can muddy a blazing tune with “hackneyed-uh, impropriety-uh” (as M.E. Smith would’nt say).

Yet with every nod of recognition, there’s a shake of the head towards a new unchartered direction that is defiantly Ikara Colt’s. When they reach that point it will be a truly remarkable album instead of just a great one. One to watch for the future, but one to get down and dirty with right now.

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More on Ikara Colt
Ikara Colt – Modern Apprentice
Ikara Colt @ Reading Festival, Reading