Review: Jack Foley
LOS Angeles oddballs, Ima Robot, are the latest band to jump
on the quirky pop-punk-electronica bandwagon, but they do so with
some considerable charm.
Arriving in the wake of bands such as Hot
Hot Heat and, to a lesser degree, The
Rapture, this offbeat quintet are knowingly bizarre - yet
endearingly so - making their eponymous debut an album that is
impossible to dislike, but, at times, a tad inaccessible.
The influences seem to fly thick and fast, from the obscure Bowie
of the Ziggy Stardust era, to the glamrock-styled anthems of Queen,
right down to the acute vocal style of John Lydon.
Yet there is also an idiosyncrasy about many of the tracks, which
make them distinctly fresh.
The album is at its finest when coming straight at you, delivering
indie-flavoured pockets of joy, such as Scream and Let's
But it can also get a little too bizarre, as in the sprawling,
operatic What Are We Made From final track, which, one
suspects, attempts to do for Ima Robot what something like Bohemian
Rhapsody did for Freddie Mercury and co.
Sadly, there'll be no headbanging along in a car to this one,
as its a little too off the wall for its own good - and a rather
messy way of bringing the album to a close.
Had Ima Robot sticked to the breezy style of earlier tracks,
which provoke most comparisons with the likes of Hot Hot Heat,
we may have been talking about a minor classic; as it is, we have
something of a hit-and-miss affair, which just about remains worthy
of checking out.
The opening guitar rifts of first track, Dynomite, tease
you with a Breeders-style loop, before quite literally exploding
into life with a jump-around-style anthem which seems tailor-made
for the campus crowd.
Things continue in suitably pumped-up fashion with the thrashing
guitars of Song #1, which provide an excellent showcase
for Alex Ebert's edgy vocal style.
And they really come into their own by the time you reach Alive
and the album highlight, Scream, which has single written
all over it; but then the breezy ease of such moments is intermittently
replaced by more quirky numbers, such as the sleazy Dirty Life
and the wildly excessive Here Come The Bombs, during which
Ebert opts for screeching as opposed to singing.
It's a shame, because such moments do threaten to undermine the
overall joy that comes with listening to the majority of the album.
But if you're willing to cast them aside, then Ima Robot
is well worth plugging into.
2. Song #1
5. A Is For Action
6. Dirty Life
7. Let's Talk Turkey
9. 12=3 (Here Come The Doctors)
10. Here Comes The Bombs
11. What Are We Made From/Black Jettas/Silence/Black Jettas