Icky Blossoms – Icky Blossoms (Saddle Creek)

Few Nebraskan indie pop outfits have tried their hand at mind-altering electronica and succeeded. Icky Blossoms may be one of the few

Released Jun 3rd, 2013 via Saddle Creek / By Larry Day
Icky Blossoms – Icky Blossoms (Saddle Creek) A trundle into the murky waters of erotic electro-pop, complete with NES Zappers and the hidden lovestory behind the Starkweather murders, sounds like a particularly far-fetched transition for Nebraskan indie-poppers Tilly and The Wall. Nevertheless, they've gone there with side project Icky Blossoms. While Tilly et al. are known for their sprightly interpretations of misspent youth, this synth-orientated alter ego is far darker - perhaps still as youthful, but this is definitely not how you'd want your kids to grow up.

The thing that grabs you first about the record is its scope. There are so many threads to follow, so many disjointed influences and subtle twangs. It feels very familiar, in a good way, and far from being derivative, it often finds new ways to present old ideas. 'Burn Rubber' starts with '212' drums and '60s rock 'n' roll bass; it's got splashes of Britpop, a Madchester haze and even choral passages. This is a ballroom mess, dapper to the nines with sinister, vicious undergrowth. 'Babes' is a lurid tale from a femme fatale, referencing Mötley Crüe's 'Girls Girls Girls' in the chorus. Under its half-whispered hushed tones, the track is cheesy, unabashedly new wave and somewhat Krauty – but just like the nodded-to '80s themselves, it's something that's become increasingly vogue.

It's been two years since the project officially formed, piquing interest and turning eager heads, and finally we have a proper full-length LP in our hands. It's a torrid affair, with erratic rampant synths and neurotic flourishes of sonic filigree, all held together by wooze-addled vocals and mechanical percussion. There are definite pop overtones, and on the whole, this is music that will make you want to dance. Take EDM-emulation 'Sex To The Devil', for instance, which sounds more akin to Benny Benassi's 'Satisfaction' than other dark electronics that they hint at throughout most of the record.

'I Am' is a neck-breaking bout of pacey synth-rock. Complete with jarring, jangly chords and needly classic rock axe riffs rocketing forth, it attempts the most uplifting slice of music this century. Meanwhile, 'Stark Weather' is an ode to executed spree killer Charles Starkweather's supposed love for Caril Ann Fugate, his then 14-year old girlfriend. Contentious stuff. The lyrics are a romanticised play-by-play, a sort of 'Bonnie & Clyde' of the modern day. The most wondrous element to the track is the sexualising cocktronica backing. Part swaggering guitars, part trippy Portishead intimacy, it's another example of Icky Blossoms' excellent sonic portmanteaus.

This debut foray into electronic music is pretty solid. It offers plenty of intrigue and dancefloor-ready belters, plus numerous opportunities to explore the sounds more deeply. Still, there's room for improvement with regards to the lyrics, which seem surface-level and often come across a bit cringey ('Sex To The Devil' has the lines “Church to god / God to the universe / The universe to art / Art to drugs / Drugs to sex / Sex to the devil” on repeat). However, this is barely a factor into the music as a whole, as the sounds Icky Blossoms weave are far more impressive and do a splendid job of distracting you from the words. A record stuffed with dark synth-pop gems.