Managing to make a strong and firmly enjoyable impression on the first listen and blossoming into an even more striking proposition thereon in is Impulse, the debut album from American rockers Idlewar. The trio from Orange County caught attention and plaudits with their first EP, Dig In last year; its sound and success though was just an appetiser for the rousing prowess of Impulse and its suspected zeal loaded critical and fan reception.
Consisting of vocalist/bassist James Blake, guitarist Rick Graham, and drummer Peter Pagonis, Idlewar have quickly shown a knack for creating boisterously infectious and creatively dramatic proposals bred on an expansive range of rock ‘n’ roll from hard and classic rock to stoner and even grungier essences. It is an ability certainly fuelling Impulse and its diverse collection of songs.
Mastered by Brian Lucey (Ghost ‘Meliora’, Black Keys ‘El Camino’, Arctic Monkeys ‘AM’) Impulse quickly grips attention and imagination with opener Stone in My Heel. The twangy riffs which touch ears first instantly have an endearing swagger to them, their invitation soon joined by the just as appetising groan and lure of Blake’s bass; both in turn courted by the swinging beats of Pagonis. Choppy riffs and sweaty grooves escape and entangle an already keen appetite for things as Blake’s gravelly roar of a voice adds a more classic rock hue to a song also twisting within the throes of noise, alternative, and darker strains of rock ‘n’ roll.
The track is superb, the perfect introduction and quickly backed up by the stoner/blues sultriness of Soul. Like Stone Temple Pilots engaged in psych rock flavoured escapades, the song croons and prowls the senses; the grooves of Graham especially flavoursome before it all makes way for the lighter infectious stroll of Criminal. Again grooves and hooks create a web easy to get caught up in, the heavier rhythmic enterprise an additional cage keeping ears and enjoyment in close attendance.
All That I Got is a slow burner in comparison. Starting with a slow emotive cloud of melody and vocal which certainly intrigues but lacks the potency of earlier tracks, the track grows in heavy emotion and intensity, finding a richer presence though it never quite hooks personal tastes as firmly as the songs around it. The variety and range of songwriting it brings does add to the powerful character of the album, as too does Innocent with its rhythmic enterprise, Pagonis laying down a captivating bed of feisty and resourceful beats over which Blake’s bass snarls, and in turn the classic rock revelry of Glory. With a great line in R&B to its body, the track is another which really grows over listens.
Band and album are back in seriously engaging gear with the rhythmically carnivorous Apathy next, it a track predatory in riffs and spidery grooves as Blake leads with his potent tones. The bass is at its most bestial in tone on the album, an infectious threat cleverly tempered by the fiery craft of Graham. Providing a certain highlight of the album, it is eclipsed by another in the catchy hip swinging devilry of Damage. With hooks to incite bad habits and a growing blaze of stoner seeded roars, the song is the cause of addiction in four minutes of mouth-watering rock ‘n’ roll.
Impulse is completed by first of all Burn All This, another song which almost stalks the listener as rapacious rhythms align to sinister riffs with the strength of catchiness which shapes the whole of the album. Grungy yet lined with a great dark blues tone and moments as heavy as they are seductively mellow, the excellent encounter is followed and album closed by On Our Knees and its feverish rock ‘n’ roll. Incessant and rousing, it is a fine end to a great debut full-length from Idlewar. It has a raw edge with mixes well with the open craft of the band members and their lively imagination plus a suggestion that the band is still developing and has plenty more to creatively discover within themselves, something to eagerly look forward to whilst enjoying Impulse.
Impulse is released September 30th via PHD.
Pete RingMaster 30/09/2016
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