One of the things I look forward to the most about Christmas and the New Year is reading the year end lists that get posted on various music sites. I always discover a release or two that I’ve missed which helps brighten what can sometimes be a dreary start to the year. You Can’t Stay Here by Iron Chic was one of these, I checked it out in early 2018 a few months after it’s release in the previous October and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since.
These guys have been around a few years now, this is their third release and first on SideOneDummy. They play a compelling brand of melodic punk rock which ranges from gruff beardcore to a lighter, poppier sound and touches on some emo-esque introspect as well. They’re a five piece who aren’t afraid to crank up the distortion and also throw in some samples, a bit of synth (if my ears don’t deceive me) and a female vocal pops up a few times to great effect. We get eleven songs here however the way each song segues into the next makes the album feel like one epic piece of music rather than eleven separate servings.
This record was written in the wake of the death of their former guitarist Rob McAllister and lyrically this album takes us on a journey through grief, nihilism, religion and finally what feels like acceptance. There are some pretty dark themes however they are delivered in such exceptional style that it helps the listener accept or process the messages within. The album kicks off with a couple of upbeat rockers, opening with 20 some seconds of distortion which gives way to a nice jangly riff before the band kick in with a hearty scream to boot. The lyrics are incredible throughout, it’s definitely an album to be enjoyed with headphones on and a lyric sheet in front of you. Track three, and title track, takes the foot off the pedal slightly with an intro that swells and builds over the course of a minute before a multi-layered wall of sound crashes down on you during one of the more emo points of the record. Let’s. Get. Dangerous. picks us up with a bright little riff and the song is a poppy antidote to the previous offering (“we both know life is temporary” simultaneously reassuring and demoralising us). Thunderbolts! comes next with some soaring back-up vocals during the chorus that bring to mind several Samiam songs – high praise indeed. Planes, Chest Pains and Automobiles rocks along nicely, painting a bleak but often realistic view of life (“Here on Earth, Where we serve our terms, And it hurts like hell, But we do it well)”. This leads into a meandering intro to next song Golgotha which was one that immediately grabbed my attention on my first run through the album. It’s a mid-tempo affair which takes us on an emotional rollercoaster and, for me, this song is all about the vocals and the lyrics. I’m pretty sure I listened to this song four or five times back to back just to learn the words and understand what the song was saying. It’s epic. This is followed by another couple of melodic rockers, Invisible Ink again bringing to mind Astray era Samiam. Ruinous Calamity starts out with a solo acoustic vibe before the full band kick in. I can imagine that when this is played live, there are a number of sweaty strangers in front of the stage, many with beards, arm in arm screaming the words towards the microphone. And I bet that feels pretty fucking great as well. To Shreds, You Say, the album closer, provides a great summation of the lyrical theme (“It’s been a long hard year, Started fine but it ends in tears, One down, We’re that much deader, This one ain’t shaping up much better”) and is an absolute belter to finish on. It rips along at a great pace and provides what feels like closure, although on close inspection the lyrics are a fairly even split between hopefulness and resignation. Regardless, it’s a fitting end to an exceptional record which these boy can be proud of.
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