Music

Ikara Colt: Chat and Business

Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece

Ikara Colt

Chat and Business

Label: Epitaph
US Release Date: 2002-11-12
UK Release Date: 2002-03-27
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Most prominent among Ikara Colt's influences are Sonic Youth and Joy Division. Couple that druggy, growling aesthetic with the vim and vigor of a Saturday night pub fight, and you have some notion of what Ikara Colt sounds like. Speedy, volatile, spittle- dripping, and, above all, filled with an energy unique to frustrated and bored college students, the London-based foursome enjoy a pretty large (and angry!) following in England. They've already become critics' darlings for their clever lyrics and enthusiastically thrashing guitars and pounding drums. And Chat and Business is, to a large extent, an exciting album. It's hard to deny the adrenaline rush of, say, the heavily Sonic Youth-sounding "Rudd"; when Resende yells, "Short wave radio! Cheap magazines!" accompanied by guitarist Claire Ingram's faded yelps, you kind of want to run outside and tear down the billboards and posters for any musician who doesn't have fiery vitriol coursing through their engorged veins. Then you remember that you've felt that way before. Didn't Thurston Moore once make you want to break stuff, too?

My personal favorite song on the album, "City of Glass", lurches discordantly on the shoulders of a bizarre melodica riff augmented by Resende's both gruff and boyish vocals. It's a truly Joy Division moment when Resende reigns in his lung-busting to create a strangely understated song (well, understated for punk, that is). You can almost imagine him flailing about psychotically onstage like Ian Curtis. But "City of Glass" isn't a rip-off; far from it. Resende sings, in this song, like someone who, instead of hanging himself like Curtis, has stuck around longer and seen a lot more disappointment. The new day that's dawning isn't a necessarily happy one, after all, no matter how welcome it may be. While Ikara Colt is gagging for change, musically, politically, and aesthetically, they also know how stagnant movements get. It's as though they see beyond the revolution to its inevitable later failure.

And that's why there's really no better movement for comparison with Ikara Colt than futurism, or other, eventually dead movements of the classic avant-garde. Indeed, Ikara Colt beg to be compared to such anarchic artistic change; in "Sink Venice", they call for the destruction of art galleries and cathedrals in the historic city, much as Marinetti and his counterparts advocated a destruction of the artistic icons of the past. Ikara Colt very deliberately place themselves in a different canon than the bands they will inevitably be compared to: the Strokes, the White Stripes, the Vines, et al. Certainly, they deserve more renown than the intensely overrated Casablancas and their ilk; these fuck-off rock and roll kids have more smarts and attitude in a broken drumset than a thousand Strokes albums. They know how short-lived they might be, and they're clever enough to propose that that's exactly what they want. Movements or bands that go on for too long lose any credibility they had to start with. That's why the enormous debt Ikara Colt owe to bands like Sonic Youth and Joy Division can be so frustrating; in basing their music so much on that of the past, aren't they, in some way, contradicting themselves?

Still, they're young, they're angry, and they're not going to take it anymore. All the members of Ikara Colt are so damn good at what they do, it's not that difficult to forgive their sometimes-adolescent, not quite fully formed politics. After all, feeling like you're 17 again can be a really, really good time. If you experience that with a smart band, as opposed to the aforementioned bland supposed saviors of rock and roll, you might even still respect yourself in the morning.

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