Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Folk music doesn’t really lend itself to innovation. When tried and tested folk musicians do try to spice up the relatively narrow sound of folk it can result in some disastrous consequences. When Lia Ices entered the rarely tread realm of cool indie folk music back in 2008 with her debut album Necima, there was definitely a sense of “one-album-is-all-you-need” from her.
For her third LP, Lia Ices has traded the delicate folk of her first two records for a more adventurous, percussive sonic palette. Opening track "Tell Me" has the all the hypnotic melody of a snake charmer's flute and all the rhythm of a full-bore drum circle. On the single "Higher," a twanging hammer dulcimer gives way to the crunch of distorted electric guitar—a combination that works surprisingly well.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. There's so much to like about the music Lia Ices makes; her second album, 2011's Grown Unknown was a great record and huge step forward from her middling debut album where she appeared to be trying to ape singers like Feist and Joanna Newsom instead of finding her own personality. But with Grown Unknown she seemed to have discovered her own voice and expanded her songs away from plain balladry.
Once upon a time, Lia Ices (nee Lia Kessel) was fashioning herself into a burgeoning art pop singer-songwriter, balancing the grandiosity of the mighty Kate Bush with the charming, docile lo-fi of Feist. Sure, 2011’s Grown Unknown still showed much room for growth in reconciling and consolidating these two sides of herself, but it quite nicely shone the light on a promising path forward for Lia. All this tangible promise makes her latest, simply titled Ices, all the more frustrating and baffling.
Self-titling a non-debut album can either suggest newfound confidence and panache or just a lack of ideas. Whether or not Ices truly counts as a self-titled record for Lia Ices is up for debate, yet it nevertheless falls into that second camp, leaving behind the piano pop of her solid sophomore LP, Grown Unknown, for glitchy production and world-beat electronica a la M.I.A.. It’s not a god-awful album, but it may be one of the laziest examples of cultural appropriation in music you’re likely to hear all year.
Singer/songwriter Lia Ices' sophomore effort, 2011's Grown Unknown, was a gorgeous collection of subdued, ethereal textures and melancholic hooks. Guest vocals from Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon on one track didn't hurt when it came to drawing attention to this lesser-known artist, but her haunted blend of Grizzly Bear-esque chamber indie instrumentation and lushly sad songwriting stood on its own throughout the album. Three years and a relocation from Brooklyn to Northern California later, Ices returns with third album Ices, branching out into an entirely different direction from the ghostly sounds that came before it.