Ist Ist are the latest sensation to come out of Manchester, a place known for its legendary musical acts. Following in the footsteps of fellow mancunians Joy Division, but with elements of the Cure and My Bloody Valentine with epic, soaring soundscapes. Their latest album “Architecture” does justice to these influences, while presenting something refreshingly new.
While some have called them “too obscure to be popular” Ist Ist have a knack for catchy hooks, such as on “You’re Mine” that demonstrates just how wrong those people are. Deep, dark vocals very reminiscent of Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy are used to great effect, and the effect heavy guitars and synths also reminiscent of so many post punk acts provide a brilliant atmosphere. However, the instrumentation I really must cite as masterful is the rhythm section. The combination of electronic and live drums heard throughout the album is a brilliant hit of 80’s nostalgia and are expertly placed. The bass guitarist has definitely worshipped at the altar of Peter Hook, just as I have. The melodic lines played up high, the gothic clean tone paired with the awesome use of fuzz makes me desperately want to go on a bass nerd rant but I’ll spare you for now. Just know that I get so excited when the bass line for “Silence” kicks in.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve made multiple comparisons between Ist Ist and Joy Division, Ist Ist are more an example of superb song writing rather than a wholly original sound. Every single song on this album is brilliantly written and arranged and I only wish I had as much song writing talent. Much like the Greta Van Fleet argument a few years back, sounding similar to another band doesn’t necessarily make that band bad, and in fact provides a new platform for the genre in the modern day. There are worse bands to sound like than Joy Division.
Unfortunately, as brilliant as the writing and sound is of this band, I feel as though they have the same problem I feel Joy Division had. Over the course of the album, I start to become slightly bored by the time I get to later end of the B-side, especially after multiple listens. These songs are not at all bad, and the songs do have variation when it comes to melody and rhythm but I feel as though the tone of the album is too similar between each track. My recommendation for listeners is to listen to the album in its entirety at least once, it’s a great listen and this is an album I’ll definitely be adding to my record collection. But after that take your favourite songs (My personal favourites being “Black” and the aforementioned “Silence”) and add them into your preferred playlists. My recommendation to the band is that they continue with their awesome sound and expert song writing but work more on keeping the listener engaged for longer periods. Perhaps by shortening the albums length or some variations on the vocal style. Still, I love this record and I will continue to watch Ist Ist with serious interest. I have no doubt that they will go far if they keep this momentum up and release an even better follow up album.
Peace, Love and Cowbells,