From the off, Ice Baths eponymous debut album is uncouth. Album opener ‘Freighter’ is a cacophony of noise, interlaced with brooding vocals setting the dark precedent for the rest of the record; the following track, ‘Island of Dogs’ is just 47-seconds of instrumental calamity.
What ensues for the remainder of Ice Baths is a collection of songs that, while undoubtedly off-kilter, and at times incredibly dark, are hugely addictive. Perhaps what makes Ice Baths such a strong debut is that every element of it is exactly what the band wanted. With an idea of what they wanted, and no intentions of compromising, Ice Baths ended up recording the album themselves, on a selection of different Tascam tape machines. And why would they have compromised? If Ice Baths is the sound of them at their most unpolished, rawest selves, why would they have tainted it with unnecessary production?
They wouldn’t, and they didn’t. Yet while Ice Baths is, it would seem, 100% what the band wanted, they leave some of it up to this listener too. Speaking of the album, the band explain they want the listener to take charge when it comes to interpreting the lyrics: “They centre on feelings or imagery that can be dreary, dark, difficult and abstract. We deliberately pass the buck to the listener to pick out certain moods or feelings.” Indeed, there’s a deliberate bleakness in Ice Baths, but in the likes of ‘New Strappings Part I’ and ‘Replacer’ there’s a restless, almost excited energy. It flits from lethargic misery, to brooding, unruly anger, all while keeping us entirely on board. Finishing with the hook-laden ‘Inhabitant,’ Ice Baths prove that they know best; this debut is entirely, and faultlessly, theirs.
Ice Baths is out on 11 May via Blank Editions