Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Icicle Works - Icicle Works

This week (March 23rd) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the self-titled debut album from Icicle Works. The 1984 release went to number 24 in the UK; here in the US it spent eighteen weeks on the Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 40. Taking its name from the science fiction short story "The Day the Icicle Works Close" by Frederik Pohl, this UK band's roster was Robert Ian McNabb (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Chris Layhe (backing vocals and bass) and Chris Sharrock (drums).

The album cover and the track order were different between the UK and the US releases. I will be taking on the US version of the record for today's review.

Side one opens with the hit "Whisper To a Scream (Birds Fly)". This single first single went to number 90 in the UK on initial release in 1983 and then to number 53 on second release in 1984. In the US, it went to number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. The percussion and the guitar on this one are like a siren song. It was a favorite of mine during 1984; it was fun for my friends and me to dance to. I am still a fan of it today, thirty years later.

"In the Cauldron of Love" has a bit of a late 60's Brit pop vibe to it, for me.

For me, "Nirvana" has a raw, primal aspect to it musically while the lyrics clearly have a worshipping connotation to them.

"Lover's Day" starts off gentle but quickly builds with passion.

The up-tempo "A Factory In the Desert" is next. I am not quite sure I get the symbolism on this one "...I love you like a factory in the desert...". This might require a repeat listen to decipher.

Side two begins with "Waterline", the one track that was new to the US release. "Reaping the Rich Harvest" from the UK release was pulled to make room for this one.

"Chop the Tree" too features a very primitive percussion to it. Musically, it is probably the closest to the side one opening track.

"Out of Season" is about a son telling his father about the woman with whom he has fallen in love. The mid-tempo song is a quaint look at the feelings of courtship.

I interpret "As the Dragonfly Flies" as a message about being true to one's self.

"Love Is a Wonderful Colour", the second single, went to number 15 in the UK. This track has an innocent and optimistic feel to it, both in music and lyrics.

Outside of their big hit, the debut of Icicle Works was another new experience for me with this review. The songs are not, for the most part, your typical pop-rock fare. I like the musical production, and the lyrics are certainly ones that make you ponder them as you listen.

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