I know I always seem to whack an apology in most of my reviews, but this one is quite apt, considering I’m about a month late to this track. But don’t fret, equip your nearest bucket hat and open your ears as I delve into Ivory Wave’s latest single.
Just to clarify, (if you haven’t noticed with my prominently guitar-based review material), I’m not normally the sort to dive into tracks with electronic leanings; normally I let the far more qualified individuals jump into such songs, afraid that I’ll make a tit of myself from asking where the guitarist’s fuzz pedal went. So please, bare witness as I gradually display my ignorance with the subgenre.
So, my apologies to the Birmingham quintet before I get started. While I’m here, I best note that Ivory Wave consists of George Johnson (vocals), Connor McMinn (guitar, and it’s also nice to see someone else with the name ‘Connor’ spelt properly), Luke Morris (bass), Seb Baldwin (drums), and Rob Clarke (synth).
To start, I do enjoy the band’s coherent and solid image. Instead of dabbling with a variety of different subgenres, the aptly named band dive head-first solely into a scene of Northern nightlife in a way which hasn’t been done since the prominent days of the Madchester scene. Of course, their sound invites comparisons to giants like Kasabian, who arguably brought such a sound into the new millennium, especially when listening to some of their other tunes, such as the concise and clearly titled ‘Club’. However, upon even a brief listen to ‘Separate Beat’, it is apparent that Ivory Wave’s tune is a much more convicted and directed piece. These lads seem to have a clear sound in mind, and do very well to achieve it with their relative youth in the music scene of the Midlands.
From the off, vibrant synth pulls you in as a wave of nostalgia flows over you: a tambourine, a trumpet (I think, I only did the recorder at school you see), and a steady swell of backing vocals all offer subtle allusions to the likes of Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans. When you get into the tune, its electronic foundations give way, allowing you to lose yourself in its psychedelic elements.
It’s no surprise that ‘Separate Beat’ manages to sound established and purposeful. Produced by Matt Terry, who has previously worked on music from Ocean Colour Scene and The Enemy, the track sounds faultless, as guitars fade into obscurity during the brief pause in the centre of the song, and backing vocals waver from euphoric to distorted, without becoming messy and muddy.
Looking past the mixing, the intent and the inspiration for the track, the second line of this tune best describes it, but not just for its lyrical content. It best displays how modern bands strive to create a distinctive image and sound on a relatively small catalogue, by alluding to the older, established bands without attempting to replicate them. Ivory Wave have reworked and added their own touch to music of the past: Confidently stated in a swaggering colloquial accent, the second line of the tune reads ‘Seems like something from the mid-nineties’, and is an apt comment on the track’s familiarity, created by bringing Madchester vibes around thirty years out of their context.
The vast, well-produced sound is starkly contrasted by the personal subject matter which focuses on the individual. Penned on a train journey, George’s distinctly northern voice serves to convey a sense of insignificance in the capital. Indeed, the tune displays the incompatibility of the northern rural sphere, and the southern urban sprawl, as reinforced in the line, “If I died I wouldn’t leave a trace”. Apologies, I sounded like I was writing an essay there.
So how would I rate ‘Separate Beat’? Well, that doesn’t matter, because all art is subjective after all. But to say that I wouldn’t normally listen to such electronic-based indie, I was pleasantly surprised at the sound that these guys have created. Revamping club-based bangers for the modern age, the quintet is set to bring some electricity to the Midlands scene.
You can catch Ivory Wave, (the band, not the drug) all throughout June across the north, headlining their latest gigs at Record Junkee in Sheffield and Verve Bar in Leeds. And much like any decent band nowadays, they have a metric tonne of social outlets. You know, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud. Equip your tracksuit and your best Sambas, and keep an eye out on these five.