Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
Record label: Saddle Creek Records
To describe Icky Blossoms in one word would be simple: infectious. And while nothing they’re doing in their close-knit hybrid of punk and sexed-up electronica is especially new, they aren’t trying to please anyone other than themselves. Originally released in 2012, the Tilly And The Wall side project’s self-titled, Dave Sitek-produced album now finally arrives here in the UK and, with their bass-heavy electronic grooves, pop structure and rock ‘n’ roll swagger, it’s surely about to be added to every summer playlist worth listening to.
With their eponymous debut album, Icky Blossoms may not be blasting through the established musical terrain to craft new territory, but that’s beside the point. What matters is how goddamn good they are at what they do. From feral rave-ups (“Burn Rubber”) to sultry grooves (“Cycles”), the group’s avant-garde stew of moody electronica, dance, primal punk and pure bubblegum pop casts one hell of an addictive musical infection.
I've never totally bought into what Tilly and the Wall are selling-- namely, "This One Time at Band Camp: The Musical. " Nevertheless, I'm unusually interested in finding out what their side projects sound might sound like. After all, membership in the perpetually youthful and lusty Omaha collective seems to be akin to that of 1017 Brick Squad or a 1990s Norwegian black metal band, as much as musical act as a lifestyle requiring a level of commitment so intense and total that you can't envision anyone having outside interests.
Icky Blossoms is the Omaha trio’s self-titled debut. With these 10 tracks, Icky Blossoms essentially introduce themselves to the listening community and present a band definition. The only snag is, I cannot really tell what that definition is, and I don’t think they can either. Heavy on electronic haziness the whole way through, vibes jolt from upbeat sweet songs to super weird, druggy dance throbs.
Ahh welcome back, Dave Sitek. Given the most recent UK release the TV on the Radio producer/guitarist worked on, it’s tempting to offer him the kind of hero’s reception afforded those released from hostage situations as Omaha, Nebraska’s Icky Blossoms finally make their UK bow. Whilst Icky Blossoms can’t touch Sitek’s earlier work, it’s a reassuring sign that he at least hasn’t taken leave of his senses entirely.
Omaha, Nebraska indie label Saddle Creek built its reputation in the early '90s on the melancholy songcraft of Bright Eyes and angular post-rock of Cursive, soon expanding its sound with the addition of the new wave-inspired, sexually charged the Faint (and spinoff project Broken Spindles) to its roster, a theme revisited by Icky Blossoms. On the trio's self-titled debut produced by Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), singer/synth player Sarah Boling and singer/multi-instrumentalists Derek Pressnall (Flowers Forever and labelmates Tilly and the Wall) and Nik Fackler share their take on electro-influenced music, delivering a combination of brooding synthesizers, danceable drums, and self-assured melodies to shape their dance-pop sound. While the Faint zoned in on dark rhythms and decadent lyrics, Icky Blossoms take a looser approach, flowing from stripped-down, arpeggiated synth rock (opener "Heat Lightning") to hypnotic, jagged beats ("Burn Rubber") to slow-burning indie rock sprinkled with icy electronic accents ("Stark Weather," loosely inspired by the Nebraskan teenager serial killer Charles Starkweather).
Image is a funny thing, and where you come from can form as much of an impression on what you are doing as the thing itself. While this may be an oversimplification, in music terms, places are synonymous with particular genres. For example, trip-hop is to Bristol what country is to Nashville. That’s not to say that Nashville isn’t capable of generating bands that create killer trip-hop beats and vice versa, but it isn’t the most likeliest scenario and bands from unknown markets need to work that much harder to get recognized.
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.