I’m done with Myspace. Quitting cold turkey; no turning back. Anyone can sound promising when they’re toting the choicest tracks on sleekly designed pages. But then a certain negative epiphany occurs and you realize that this is the worst form of false advertising. Maybe brevity is why Myspace sucks. We figured out that liking a band because of superficial Internet introductions is somewhere between crushing on your English teacher because she gets the “irony” in Lord of the Flies and mistaking dog shit for a melted chocolate sundae. Whatever the reason, the scene temple’s ruin isn’t for lack of building blocks. Bands like Icarus the Owl are everywhere nowadays: mildly technical guitar playing – just stop before you lecture me on the difficult progressions, it doesn’t come through in the songwriting - strained and emotive vocal delivery, and lyrics like, “Say you want to / Say you need me now / I just want to have you only for tonight.” I never thought I’d wonder this again, but isn’t the Fall of Troy releasing an album soon?
Towards the end of The Spotless Mind (and definitely by the sloppy screaming on closer “Three Weak Break”), the title becomes a sort of hopeful wish for the listener. Although distaste is crystal clear by the end, it’s pretty obvious from the outset of opener “Running from Lacuna” that this isn’t going to be fun. Every chorus Joey Rubenstein leads us to is actually a cartoon oasis. We arrive tired and bruised from all the unnecessary bashing of instruments and all we want is a hook. Then we hear: “You’ll always be my Clementine / Clementine / Clementine.” No release for our pent-up math rock aggression exists, at least not here. The Spotless Mind continually veers from what may be an enjoyable take on intelligent math-rock. If the band only released the guitar intro to “The Extortionist”, I may be happy, but instead they choose to cram 14 songs of scene-pop sameness into us. It may sound harsh, but Rubenstein can’t lead this band with his voice. His lead guitar is agile enough, as he has some genuine moments of wizardry (“Game of Jenga”, “It’s A Good Thing You’re Loyal”). However, throw in his deep but still nasally vocals and Icarus the Owl become a throwaway band. The talent is completely overshadowed.
Maybe Icarus the Owl should be an instrumental band. Once again, the intro to a song completely overshadows anything that happens afterward on “My Grey Shun.” Mark Haines smashes the drums without berating them and Rubenstein sounds like he’s teaching his fingers tango lessons. It’s energetic and tough to play and forceful. When it’s over, though, we have another guitar-pop song that wishes it was something more. If the band were to focus on their adept technicality and let it shine, The Spotless Mind could become so much more. By leaving the vocals as the center of each song, the band makes things unnecessarily difficult on themselves. Few bands do this style well in my opinion (Bring Back the Guns’ Dry Futures is a prime example). But I’m just some guy at a computer screen literally writing this in his underwear. And crap, now I can’t even check Myspace. How oh how will I spend my time?
Recommended If You Like: Kill Your Ex, Bring Back The Guns, ________, The Fall of Troy, ______________
I haven't heard these guys, but I need to commend this excellent review. Punchy writing, very to the point, consistent, and informative. I'm interested in the record just to check it against the witticisms. Bravo, sir.