It seems like every mention of Ivy League TX’s new LP “Transparency” opens with the sentiment “Title Fight 2.0!”
That’s not an entirely fair statement. While some songs do sound like something Title Fight could have easily collaborated on, other songs are purely a creation of Ivy League Tx’s own communal mind. The album as a whole doesn’t have much creative or ground breaking material; instead, it’s a half hour of fast-as-you-can drums, introspective lyrics, and wailed singing. Because of this, there isn’t anything truly bad, but it’s not very memorable either. With this as my only contact to Ivy League Tx, I’m left without a solid idea of who they are and what they are working towards (besides “Play Faster! Be Louder!”)
Opener “Canopy” is an interesting song; after about thirty seconds, the drums and vocals become so pounding it’s difficult to hear. “I don’t want to be alone, but I’m afraid that’s all I know” Huff spits out in a gravelly voice that sounds like it’s on the edge of blowing out. “One final way to fix my own mistakes, right in front of you.” The obvious emo-yearning of the lyrics is minimized by crashing drums, and roots in 90’s alternative.
“Daily Pt. 2” sounds unfinished. Vocals are stumbled over in a way that seem out of pace with the rest of the music. As a result, the song feels awkward. Lyrics about the “voices in my head” and “you can carry on alone but I’ll always have your soul” lack originality and sound a bit laughable. “Pt. 2” is followed by “All My Skeletons” which sounds more sincere in its loneliness. Complete with guest vocals by Letlive’s Jason Butler, the song sounds almost anathematic. “Help me understand why death comes earlier than planned” they sing. While songs such as “Pt. 2” sound clunky and rushed, it’s redeeming moments like “All My Skeletons” that make me want to see what this band does next.
“Egress” is one of those songs that excite me. 2 minutes, and without any vocals, the music ebbs and flows in a way that invokes dreaming. It’s a great jewel mid-album to prove how truly skilled the band is at their instruments.
“My Mercenary” sounds, unfortunately, like so many other songs. Lyrics of “You can have what’s left of me” descend into screams and wails over steadily building music. While there isn’t anything wrong with the song per se, it’s also not a unique song. For a closing track it is sadly, unmemorable.
Overall, this album feels a bit half baked. There is clearly talent at work, however many of the songs aren’t as strong as they could be, or frankly should be, given the amount off praise tossed Ivy League’s way. Perhaps production was rushed, or perhaps it’s was just the wrinkles of working with new producers and a new label. Either way, someone needs to stick this one back in the oven for a bit.