Over the last few weeks I’ve been listening to iTCH’s debut album, The Deep End. Even now, I’m not entirely sure what to make of the offering from the former The King Blues frontman. Its one of those albums where at first you wonder if its a really pure, profound mix of lyrics, beats and harmony, then a few more songs in and you’re now wondering whether its just a pop album. To be honest, that started out being true for the makeup of the tracklist, but now that’s pretty much how I feel about the album as a whole – it’s good and it’s bad, it’s deep but then it’s pop, it’s new and exciting and then it sounds like something you’ve heard over and over. The other, immediately noticeable thing, is that iTCH sounds exactly like Professor Green, apart from when the punk MC sounds like Plan B.. or Jamie T.. Don’t forget Dappy.. Oh and I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of Johnny Rotten in there somewhere too.
The album really provides a great platform to display iTCH’s wealth of musical talent; elements of punk, pop, reggae, folk, dubstep and dance are all present in what really is an excellent, eclectic album. Due to the varied nature of the album it’s gonna be divisive, and you might not like every track, but you’ll be hooked on a quite few.
‘Bottom of the Glass’ is probably my favourite track; its got a catchy folk-inspired chorus, but the raw rap verses backed by violins – “It gets me thinking.. How did I end up here? Alone at 3am, serenading a bottle of beer..” perfectly relaying the plight of the common man. ‘The Deep End’ is probably the most dynamic track on the disc; soca and twangs of dubstep give way to an almost latin-oriental fusion beat, before a great guitar riff comes crashing in – and then when you think its over the dubstep reappears to top it all off. ‘Ricochet’ starts out as a great showcase for the technical brilliance of iTCH’s rapping, it then develops into a dancey reggaestep track that would be equally at home in a dingy London club or in the top 40.
Ironically, its mainly the featured singles on the album that don’t really do it for me. ‘Life is poetry’ to me sounds like Professor Green spitting over a corny pop hook. “Homeless Romantic” is a pretty good song, the musics great but, unfortunately, the singing sounds forced and I can’t help but imagine its what a posh Jamie T would sound like when iTCH nonchalantly raps. I actually really liked ‘Best Shot’ at first, but after a while I actually just found the song annoying; initially I liked the beat, that was until I felt like I was listening to Kevin Rudolf sing over a noisy construction site.
Other than the hook, ‘Children of the Revolution’ is bland and whingy. ‘Not my Revolution’, on the other hand, combines the smooth vocals of BC Jean with iTCH’s reflective tone to provide a soulful element to the album. As much as ‘Laugh’ isn’t one of my favourites on the album, it’s a great pop song and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s blaring out of speakers everywhere this summer. ‘Like I’m Drugs’ is another dance floor banger and its got a great N-Dubz-esque feel to it. I’ve left ‘Another Man’ till last because I really don’t know how I feel about it; on one hand its another good pop song, on the other its another good pop song – there’s nothing great about it and frankly it feels cheap.
There are some great songs on iTCH’s debut solo album, some good songs, and even a few bad songs. What is definitely evident is that iTCH is a supremely talented young man with a distinctly British sound. This album might not be a smash-hit, but I’m pretty sure the next one iTCH brings out will be.