Icarus The Owl

Pilot Waves

Written by: HES on 16/12/2015 00:00:06

I reviewed the self-titled album of by then unknown to me Icarus The Owl last year, as I stumbled upon it as a part of our lists of promotional records. Their infectious 'pop-core' sound, mixed with jazzy, rhythmic elements, makes an extremely dense soundscape - yet is undeniably catchy. And again on this release one's mind shuffles in the same good old direction of Emarosa or Dance Gavin Dance because of Icarus’s Joey Rubenstein’s voice, which undeniably shares the qualities of the at one time vocal ambassador of both these bands, Johnny Craig. Nothing has changed here - or has it?

The latest branch on the strain is "Pilot Waves", the follow up to the before-mentioned self-titled record. The record puts a solid bid in for the crown of this hybrid of over-technical yet sweetening melodic part of the post-hardcore genre. But whereas the frantic energy of the self-titled release was mixed with moments of contrast, the overall franticness of "Pilot Waves" almost takes your breath away - and not necessarily in an overall good way. Whereas “Mantis” is a good example of a frantic verse supported by a more down-tempo chorus - a great, creative take on a structure that is conventionally the opposite - many other songs suffer, like "“Prague, 1842”, “Dinosword” or “Werewolf Tea Party”, from simply being too “sped up”. Under these conditions, Rubenstein’s voice becomes strained and, well, difficult to stomach for more than a couple of songs at a time.

On the other hand, the band still delivers grand pop-core opuses like the title track, which slows down during an emotional bridge as Rubenstein finally has time to catch his breath and emote a beautiful half-broken plea. Another gem is the soaringly beautiful “Skysweeper”, with the desperate chorus voicing the lines “I thought I was .. I thought I was a millionaire!”. And albeit it's almost too cheesy, the brilliant chorus of “Peak and Valley Lines” perfectly underlines the immense melodic surplus Icarus The Owl administers.

Overall the question of whether you will like this record simply comes down to how disruptive you find the frantic energy and almost poncy way of expression that dominates the record. For me, this record simply demands my attention to be omnipresent. I am just desperately missing, call it contrast or pause, in order to comfortably navigate Icarus The Owl’s extremely dense soundscape.

Download: Skysweeper, Peak and Valleys, Pilot Waves
For The Fans Of: Emarosa, Dance, Gavin Dance, The Fall of Troy
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 16.10.2015
Blue Swan Records

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