Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bootleg Magazine!

Many many thanks to Brian Tucker at Bootleg Magazine for their review of Horror Vacui:

Horror Vacui digs deep, far into places most are familiar with – failed relationships and failed personal constitutions. On the surface Horror Vacui is sonically similar to IWTDI’s fantastic self titled debut and last fall’s Done Waiting EP. Horror Vacui is up-tempo, moving and exhilarating. It’s also far more dynamic than its predecessor that concentrated mostly on catchiness and powerful hooks. It made for something incredibly fun and relative, but it bore few skeletons.

Horror Vacui does. It’s filled with songs about mistakes and complaints, a confessional during and after the fallout of a relationship. What’s under the surface is harder to absorb than the sugar coated high wire act the band puts on. After taking it in lyrically the album shows its layers, making the album more relatable, more effective, than one might have intended. Pain makes for great art at the sacrifice of its creators. Horror Vacui is no different, as it was constructed around a romantic relationship on the outs. But the album bears no finality; it’s as much about the storm as how two people deal with the aftermath of it all.

The album is rich with needing and needling, of trying to communicate without actually doing so. On ‘Former Boy Wonder’ vocalist John Booker bears confession as he sings “Through trials and blunders/As a man I'm not enough.” It’s rare that we get anyone to fess up anymore, let alone in the gut wrenching frankness Booker gives here. I haven’t heard anyone say there weren’t man enough this way since Kravitz’s full album apology Mama Said. On ‘Cup of Tea’ you feel for Hirsh when she sings of trying and regressing, “Cause you're my cup of tea/And it may burn my tongue, the flavor might be wrong/But I guess it's what I want/Yeah, stuck with what I’ve got.”

Booker and Hirsh go back and forth on ‘Caterwaul’ and Booker declares in a muted speaker-toned voice “And I cannot find an emotion/To keep us safe from the wolves at the door.” It’s a frantic, nightmarish number built on crazed, tribal drumming and near psychotic keyboard playing. ‘Done Waiting’ and ‘Come Out, Come Out’ are standout tracks here and ‘Come Out, Come Out’ pleads for untamed youth and exploration, easy on the nautical metaphors and strong on wants and desires. Hirsh sings blatantly, “I want to be young/To be a wreck and wrecked upon/I want to get out/And be a ship without the anchor.” To be a wreck and be wrecked upon says so much more lyrically than prurient lyrics by the Katy Perry’s of today. ‘Come Out, Come Out’ comes off like a party anthem blend of Bow Wow Wow and The Replacements where the narrator wants for experience, of freedom on the sea but unaware of the wrecks already sunk there. But it’s the acoustic number ‘Turn My Grave’ that finds the band exploring, not relying on sonic extremities, and finding tenderness in their singing strengths.

IWTDI throws many shots in the summer night air with their new album, but several echo the melancholy of fall, no matter how much punch they put in the recordings. It’s a great rock record, one that hits the heart as much as the adrenaline button. What’s better is that it fails to take sides, leaving the listener feeling for either party. Horror Vacui is a step forward for IWTDI, for its growth as musicians and for their personal measures.

Brian Tucker
Bootleg Magazine
Wilmington, NC
July 7, 2009


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