[8 April 2007]
Finnish band, Magenta Skycode’s debut album IIIII is a mixed bag that offers moments of dazzling brilliance that shine amid stumbling blocks of monotony. Slow tempo mood music that borders on prog-rock and ‘80s goth, IIIII suffers the typical pratfalls of nearly any band’s first album. The usual suspects are present such as borrowing too heavily from genre-specific forefathers and overly ambitious opuses that overstay several minutes past their welcome. The repetitive intro to “Hands Burn” eats up almost half of the nearly six-minute track. Alternately, the group pulls off several impressive compositions, notably “People” which channels The Cure with its sparse, simple guitar riffs that hover near the top of the fretboard. Ethereal sounding synthesizers compliment the guitar parts nicely, giving the harmony-heavy piece a retro feel. While the ‘80s synth-pop vibe works on many of the tracks, it can get grating on others—specifically, “Red Eyes”—incongruously meshing an otherworldly hum with sound effects that seem as if they’d be more at home on an episode of Dr. Who or a game of Pong. Nevertheless, IIIII‘s strong suits lie within the beautiful lyrics that populate the disc and the whisperingly emotive vocals of Jori Sjöroos. Magenta Skycode really hits their stride with the majestic misery of “Go Outside Again”. Ticking claps mark the moments of time passing and punctuate the gloom and weepy wistfulness of Sjöroos’ expressive voice. Lyrically, “Go Outside Again” and “Compassion” stand out and stick with you even after a single play. While not the most inventive debut record, overall, Magenta Skycode shows potential to gracefully come into their own on future efforts judging by many of the high points on IIIII.