Release Date: Jan 22, 2021
Record label: Ninja Tune
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Techno, Garage, Club/Dance
It's something of a cliche to say that the club is like a church - bringing together communities under one banner; the almost spiritual experience a good night out can give. But it takes on a different meaning when you're from a city where religion is the most divisive topic going. For Belfast-born Bicep, the club was the exact opposite of church; one of the only places in a divided city where religion didn't matter.
Bicep is a fascinating electronic duo made up of Belfast’s Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar. Having met at mini rugby as nippers, they later forged an alliance based on appreciation of wide ranging genres of music. This culminated in them becoming bloggers with their curiously titled Feel My Bicep page, curated when blogging was far more authentic and far less commonplace.
It's often said that music becomes important to you because it speaks to you on a personal level. It chimes with something in your make up, as if it has known you for the longest time. In some instances, this familiarity causes reflection, a chance to look back at a particular time and place, channeling all manner of emotions that surround those memories.
Over the course of a decade, Belfast-raised duo Bicep have honed a distinctive, sharply focused sound that distills elements from several dance music styles and eras into a tense, high-impact blend. They've struck gold several times, particularly with 2015's dazzling "Just" and 2017's massive "Glue," a viral hit from their U.K. Top 20-charting debut full-length.
Irish duo Bicep debuted strongly in 2017 with their self-titled album -- a confident mix of continental trance melodicism and urban grit that earned them many an accolade. Inspired by their relocation to London and its cultural diversity, their second outing, Isles, offers a slicker, more ambitious version of their debut -- more layers, more vocals, more focus, and crisper, harder-hitting production. There are perhaps signs that, as deft and well-judged as it is, the duo's style might only take them so far, but by and large this is a very good sophomore effort that makes good on their early promise.