Album Reviews

Ill Ease – The Exorcist

UK release date: 2 February 2004


Ill Ease is actually a one woman band, Elizabeth Sharp, straight out of Brooklyn. Previously the drummer for indie outfit New Radiant Storm King, she decided to make a break for it and play all the instruments herself.

Where do you go though after a release called Greatest Tits? Well that raised a few eyebrows of course, and not just for the title. On the strength of that she’s been signed to Beggars’ Too Pure imprint for her debut album.

At only half an hour it’s a hark back to the days when albums were a more sensible length (how old do I sound?!), and it works pretty well because of the limited sound picture she’s allowed herself.

Hers is a curious vocal style, murmuring punkified lyrics such as “18 to party, 21 to drink, leave your hang-ups hung up at the door, you can throw up in the sink.” Even when she sings “baby don’t f*** with me” it’s in the style of a sedated PJ Harvey. The only time she really seems to cut loose is on second track Winter In Hell, where “we’re all gonna freeze”.

It certainly makes for an individual sound when that vocal is added to a low, growling bass and distorted guitars. Opening track Jersey-o-matic is jaunty enough, a sprightly guitar riff easy to remember, but Sharp makes the mistake of recycling the music for Junkie Go Home.

You Look Like Hell is one of the album’s more successful tracks, recalling Elastica with a punchy guitar line, and that old favourite the hidden track makes a comeback, although in this case it sounds like someone mowing the lawn in slow motion!

All this sounds a bit disparaging, but the feeling remains that this has been done before by the aforementioned Elastica, Peaches and the like. It should be mentioned though that the Exorcist, despite its cold lyrics, is a record with an intimate, closely recorded sound. One thing it didn’t do was make me pine for the return of Sleeper, so in that sense you could judge it a success, albeit with reservations.


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