Album Reviews - Reviews

The Icarus Line – Slave Vows


I love a good steak. It’s a delicious, vaguely healthy treat that tastes like victory with an additional side of glory. The thing I love most about steak is the precision involved in getting it just right. The Icarus Line‘s Slave Vows in many ways is an overcooked LP; one which starts off as a fine rare and ends up as charcoal.

The album is definitely one of two parts: the noisy, overlong Stooges covers and the noisy, substantially better Stooges covers. With regards to the first half, it is very clear that Iggy and friends’ Fun House record was the central reference point, with the song lengths and moods evoking the likes of ‘Dirt’ and the title track. Most of these songs contain breakdowns which invoke an unfortunate comparison to those jokes in Family Guy that go on for minutes at a time that contain only a single gag repeated ad neasuem until it becomes funny. There are times where those jokes work, but more often than not they fail; these noisy interludes are of a similar ilk. Album opener ‘Dark Circles’ is an example of this at play, with its initial five minutes being devoted to a repeating phrase which gradually expands and becomes more chaotic before eventually exploding. As the listener, it feels as though you’re the sacrifice on the railroad tracks, and there’s a freight train coming. But as you progress further through the first half, these chaotic and volatile interludes stop being exciting and just become tedious.

The band’s central influences are clear and transparent: Iggy Pop and his leather skin are happily dancing in the forefront and deep within the DNA of these songs. There are other spectres hovering around with ‘Don’t Let Me Save Your Soul’ sounding somewhere like a cross between Fugazi and Led Zeppelin (Yet not as good as either). What’s more, album highlight ‘Rats Ass’ owes more than a debt to Black Sabbath by way of Funkadelic.

However, there is one figure lurking in the background whose influence shouldn’t be overlooked: Nick Cave. The vocal production wouldn’t feel out of place on From Her To Eternity, the bassline of ‘Dead Body’ conjures memories of ‘Lovely Creature’ from the Murder Ballads album and the distortion and noise effects used owe so much to Grinderman that Cave and crew could make a reasonable case for litigation.

It would be now that I’d try and wrap things up and conclude that the album is an average piece, overcooked and lacking some of the ingenuity and spark of the influences, but overall worth a listen if the last Stooges album left you cold. I would say that, but then I read the press notes and the whole album became weirdly sour. There’s huge talk within the document about how Icarus Line are a dark and dangerous band with an exciting live show that blah blah generic rock talk. What piqued my interest was their example of how edgy and hardcore the band were. Apparently the band have stolen Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar, graffitied the Strokes tour bus and published Fred Durst’s cellphone number online. This really put me off the record. We all know that rockstars are almost exclusively assholes, but it feels a little wrong for me to recommend something that uses that fact as a selling point. Will Murphy