March 23, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Identikit - Out Of The Floodways and Into Your Homes (2013)

It makes perfect sense that after 4 years and an EP, Identikit have finally mastered their unique brand of messily catchy guitar-rock sound covered with thick layers of scuzz, shoegazery feedback and heavy riffs. And on their debut album, Out Of The Floodways And Into Your Homes, they’re not scared as shit to turn candy-coated noise and excess into pure pop pleasure. Honey, this is how you design a nervous breakdown in a fashionably sweet but in-your-face affair, delivered in full volume, perpetually stuck between confectioner goodness and your Tito’s Sonic Youth CD collection.

You could practically hear solid gold moments crawling out of Identikit’s new album, and it comes out with the kind of explosion that blasts in front of you without warning. “Weird Just Friends” thrives on this strength with infectious arrangements and driving rhythms. It opens the record on a caffeinated note, towering 12-stories high of galloping rage and a lonely heart. Its Sputnik Sweetheart fuzz-punk romance is carried over on “Skeptics” and first single “Me and My Japanese Bike,” drawing strength from Sandy Buladaco’s isolationist-as-sad lyrics and the way it’s gloriously cemented into some form of an upbeat menace.

There’s something quite morose in Sandy’s songwriting tone that emanates from the dark corners of the room, desperately seeking for comfort and affection without screaming out loud for attention. But there's emotional restraint even in her sadness; she sings about unrequited love and yearning while ending it all too soon with a painful goodbye. Without turning back, without lingering on the drama. This earnestness, as caught between heartbreak and finding the strength to begin picking up the pieces, is pretty much heard on Out Of The Floodways and Into Your Homes, articulated, let alone shared in ways relatable to everyday human experience. Songs like “Celebrations” and “Peach” emit this vibe as it scrapes against the speaker and goes out of your room with cursory ferocity, with the latter revealing an exquisitely bittersweet farewell to a ho-hol, mo-mol affair.

“Dysfunctional” keeps the mood on an even sadder perspective, tackling the dynamics of abusive relationships with poignancy that breaks your heart. A torch ballad shaped by its ethereal shoegaze figure, it radiates with warmth despite its sensitive subject. “Hello Mr. Brown” ends the album on an eviscerating note, slowly working its way to your headspaces with no signs of leaving, at all. It’s easily one of my favorite tracks in the album, an alt-rock gem that despite its bruised sentiments, still managed to fill the air with optimism and extended instrumentation that bursts in a cold, midnight fireworks display.

Sans the post-rock fillers and ethereal ambient-pop remixes, Identikit’s Out Of The Floodways And Into Your Homes comes closest to sounding perfect and vulnerable all at the same time, with its fragile moments that remind us of how painful sometimes love can be. In another artist’s hand, this could come off as too depressing. With Sandy’s top-shelf songwriting and the band’s penchant for noisy but genuine earmworms, it definitely makes a huge difference. 5 years from now, it won’t be surprising to look back to this record and see it as essential to Identikit’s discography.  A-  

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