Ikara Colt: Chat and Business

Ikara Colt
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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