Icarus Himself: Career Culture

icarus himself, career cultureIcarus Himself: Career Culture
Madison, WI-based independent record label, Science of Sound and I have had a long and tenuous relationship. I once gave their artist, She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde‘s 2007 self-titled album such a scathing review it was quoted by The Onion. On the other hand, I quite liked His and Her Vanities‘ 2009 album, The Mighty Lunge and I have given positive reviews to Pale Young Gentlemen as well. So when getting into Icarus Himself‘s sophomore album, Career Culture, I wondered if it would fall on the She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde side of the spectrum or the His and Her Vanities’ end.
Unfortunately, Icarus Himself seems to share more with She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde than with Pale Young Gentlemen or His and Her Vanities. Like She Is So Beautiful, their music is most downtrodden indie rock. However there is something a little more accessible about Career Culture.
I think the difference is the vocals. Lead vocalist, Nick Whetro does not have a great voice and the vocals are given a good amount of reverb. Whetro’s voice combined with the effect reminds me a lot of Funeral-era Arcade Fire.
The Arcade Fire comparison is also helped by the instrumentation on the album. Although Icarus Himself is a three piece, they have session musicians playing piano, clarinet, cello, and sax. The cello in particular gives the album that baroque pop sound.
Of course some tracks veer from that sound. The oddest is “On Your Side” which features distorted lo-fi synth backed by what sounds like a Casio drum beat. And even though the track sticks out like a sore thumb on the album, Whetro manages to make it work. Other tracks like the tropical-drenched “Mornings at the Bar” can not be saved by Whetro or his vocal effects.
In the end, I do not think Career Culture goes down in the pantheon of great Science of Sound releases. It’s sound is too inconsistent. Fortunately it does deliver enough solid songs to also avoid my critical wrath.
Rating: 6.9/10
MP3: Icarus Himself “Wake Up”
Buy: iTunes

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