Ciccone Ritchie

Within Our Parameters

Written by: LF on 22/05/2014 18:14:31

Ciccone Ritchie is a fairly well-known name in the Copenhagen rock-scene and has been for some years, although this is the first I hear of them, probably owing to the fact that I come from the other side of Denmark. They have previously released a promising and markedly Incubus-inspired EP, and in just a couple of days they're finally releasing their debut full-length "Within Our Parameters". They're best described as a very melodic alternative rock band with hard rock tendencies. While these tendencies certainly seem to lay the musical foundation for Ciccone Ritchie, the band strives for so much more with this album.

On the first song "Bang Goes Evil" this is evident in the uplifting guitar riffs and layered vocal effects which both contribute a certain air of grandeur to the composition, reminding me most of all of the melancholic approach of Funeral For A Friend's album "Tales Don't Tell Themselves". The reason this particular album comes to mind is also linked to the way the vocals are delivered, soaring dramatically but also somehow detached above the instruments. My personal highlight of the record, "99¢ Redemption", especially begs the comparison. The riffs in its intro are probably the most spacious on the entire album, immediately followed by hopeful choruses, grief-stricken verses and appropriately downplayed violins, the song somehow building harmonic release upon harmonic release as it flutters along with a slightly heavy heart. To contrast this grandiosity we have the more clean hard rock part of Ciccone Ritchie's sound which dominates songs like "Sleep" and "FourDoubleSixSixFour" with ominous, echo-laden riffs, intensely melodic vocals and uncompromising drums.

However, this air of grandeur, which runs through the album as a sort of red thread connecting the different musical elements, doesn't always succeed in binding the ambition of the vocals to that of the instruments, although the production does make it all sound pretty flawless regardless. I realize it's unfair to call out a band on elements they did not include in their music. However, as a girl who likes her rock, whether gritty or polished, with a bit of screams in it, I can't help but feel frustrated that in some places where there is very obvious space for the vocals to punch through, they stay almost a little too flawless. A case in point is "In Ignorance I Trust", a hard-going song with groovy, rhythmic lyrics, that somehow still lacks real edge because the vocals could use some of the strain that can be glimpsed on "Dear Ancestry" just before it. The chorus of "Liars and Gallows" has me recollecting the softer side of Foo Fighters' songs but again I'm left yearning for real explosions in the sound.

Alas, Ciccone Ritchie opts for strong melodies and technical rhythms, and while other styles might be more up my alley, I fully applaud that decision as the more dramatic songs like "Dear Ancestry" and "My Fortress, My Prison" are excellent not least thanks to the intricate vocal work and the insanely strong hooks they've got going for them, especially the last half of the latter is downright addictive when vocalist Bjarke Madsbøll sings the title of the track in long notes over a layer of guitars momentarily calmer than in the rest of the song. So to me the strength of this band is somehow also their weakness. Striving for this sort of grand sound as a relatively small band seems like balancing on a knife's edge, where just a little misstep will make it sound sort of try-hard. The members of Ciccone Ritchie mostly avoid that and deliver a generally well-executed and deliciously sounding debut that deserves to be listened to in its entirety – and with intricacies and hooks that warrant more than just a single listen as well.

Download: 99¢ Redemption; My Fortress, My Prison; FourDoubleSixSixFour; Dear Ancestry
For The Fans Of: Incubus, Funeral For A Friend, Exit Ten, Creed

Release date 24.05.2014

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