The angular, sweaty, electro-clash dance punk on Icky Blossoms’ self-titled debut drops a Tilly and the Wall guitarist and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek (on board here as producer) way back into the early aughts. While that equation might not immediately sound like a winner, what theoretically should be overwhelmingly “been there, done that” instead comes across as honest bombast without much conflict.
Tilly guitarist/vocalist Derek Pressnall teams with vocalist Sarah Bohling and guitarist Nik Fackler to pump out 42 sultry identity-shaping minutes. Whether it’s getting into the head of a spree killer (on “Stark Weather”, the love story of teenage Nebraskan Charles Starkweather and his love) or attempting to beat self-awareness (the smoky anxiety of “Cycle” relies on the hinged repetitions of “I want to feel/ Too much to feel”), the reality is insistent. Bohling and Pressnall each lead at different points in the album, and Bohling’s hazy, sensuous “Deep in the Throes” matches Fackler’s sprawling coos on Le Tigre-like “I Am”. Despite the fractured voices, the swank production and thematic lyrics of love, lust, and uncertainty unify the album.
But there’s never a true sense of danger to Icky Blossoms. Connecting good and evil in a lengthy mantra on “Sex to the Devil” (“Church to god/ God to the universe/ The universe to art/ Art to drugs/ Drugs to sex/ Sex to the devil”) results in more cheese than challenge, even though the swiveling synths and droning beat will fill the dance floor despite the uninteresting YACHT knock-off of the chorus. The limber, bouncy bass line and fuzzed-out synths of “Burn Rubber” seem ready to hit a point of fracture, but instead the thing winds up droning like a take off of Liars’ “Mr. You’re on Fire Mr.” without the intensity. Infusing the music itself with the lyrics’ hints of peril, chaos, and uncertainty would give this disc the dramatic pulse that it badly needs.
Essential Tracks: “I Am”, “Deep in the Throes”