It is strange to think that in this day and age, when a band prides itself on being without irony, pretension, and/or blinding ambition (the bad kind), they tend to come across as far more appealing, and ultimately more enduring that those who opt to stamp their recognition before they are deserving of it. We have bands like The Mars Volta (whose one loooong, never ending joke stopped being funny a long time ago), Circa Survive (painful to listen to), and Coheed & Cambria (makes drywall appear interesting) whose names are often bantered around their respective scenes as artists crafting an indefinite, and open future- “revolutionary” as they’re sometimes called. Yet anyone who sees through the hype can peel back some of the prettier aesthetics to reveal a pretty shallow message- behind those high-pitched wails and excessive noodling is the missing ingredient, the very basic appeal of good music; fun.
So when Tooth & Nail’s latest post-hardcore/emo outfit Ivoryline came to play, it would be presumed easy to dismiss them on their glossy appeal. Just another emo/screamo band looking to make as much noise in the shortest time possible … well, thankfully, no, they’re nothing of the kind. Initial spins of their debut disc, There Came a Lion, gives one the notion that these guys aren’t really interested in changing the scene, making a global impact, and/or boast claims of genre grandeur. In fact, There Came a Lion is so precisely put together that, gasp!, it actually sounds like a record they well and truly put 100% into. There’s an ebb and flow to it that rekindles a time before MySpace, before album leaks were common, and before listeners felt as if it all should be free.
The songs come together in both harmony and urgency- from the bouncy opening attack of “Days End” to the more melancholy-inducing “We Both Know,” Ivoryline are keen to balance their heavy guitar/percussion dual with a keen sense of songwriting and musical poise. They veer into pop/rock territory with their regular use of harmonies and anthemic choruses (see both “Parade” and “Remind Me I’m Alive”), but aren’t afraid to mix them with slower, more textual interludes and bridges (like in the terrific “Hearts and Minds”). And while they’re clearly accessible- they don’t tread too much on the lighter side of pop, keeping their thematic threads a little darker than your average lovelorn aching.
In the song “Hearts and Minds,” they sing the lines; “I’m not looking to music to complete me / I’m not looking for a new philosophy / I’m not waiting for somebody to swoon me / I’m just searching for a better way into your love.” Succinct and poignant convictions from a young band boasting plenty. And perhaps in the current musical climate, one of the most complimentary things I could say about a band is that yes, I’d buy that.
(Tooth & Nail Records)