By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Chat and Business
It's easy to feel hesitant about embracing the British music press's latest bedfellow. And a certain declaration by NME that London punks Ikara Colt are "brilliant" is cause for a step back. Then again, the quartet--who convened as art students in 1999--almost manages to live up to that claim.
The band works in every hallmark of Brit art-punk tradition on their debut full-length, the thoroughly Anglo Chat and Business. The album's minimalist packaging, complete with stick-on black and white photos, recalls Factory Records. And its 12 hit-em-up tracks are pure jump-cut punk: Keyboardist Paul Resende's vocals, spat like a young Mark E. Smith, have a flatness that's beyond deadpan. Meanwhile, Dominic Young's drumming is pinpoint angular, and Claire Ingram's guitar is almost violently precise, careful not to bleed distortion. "One Note" thunders forward, a bassline pulsating with hypertension at its heart. Likewise, a speedy three-chord lead guitar and steadfast drum propel "Bishop's Son." The stickwork slows to a gelatin quiver on "City of Glass," as Resende's punk-as-shaman mantra, "A new dawn is coming," forges along toward revelation. "Pop Group" and Ingram's "Belgravia" skip along to the same verse-chorus-chorus-verse beat.
As on the Fall's best tracks, Ikara Colt's lyrics, though tersely provocative, sometimes take a back seat to the group's charismatic shout-speak delivery. But Smith does well with the formula, and Ikara Colt sound extremely proficient. Time will certainly tell whether their hands-around-your throat approach will sustain another gasp. As for the legacy of British punk (and press), Chat and Business is probably business as usual.
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