Anonymous Iconoclasts are a four piece made up of Steve, vocals and guitar; Keyo, lead guitar; Sean, drums and percussion and Mic da Bass, bass – all permanent fixtures of the Welsh music scene, whether in their current guise or another. A.I., the band’s second album, consists of 14 songs, eleven of which were penned by Steve and the remainder by Keyo.
The album kicks off with, first single, Travelator. Life’s mundanities are soundtracked by a loose and scratchy guitar riff. “No point in the journey/Just taking a ride.” This opener may wrong foot the listener into thinking – the rest will follow suit and we’ll be subjected to 1977 CBGB throughout. Not the case. California is a lullaby bathed in guitar arpeggios and relaxed drum shuffles. This Is It has a lovely and dreamy Pink Floyd feel. The vocal phrasing is pure David Gilmour. Don’t let the little things, however big they may seem at the time, conduct you: “The string that breaks off from the kite/ The ball that rolls off down the hill.” It is your fellow man/woman, and their embrace, which fulfils: “The love you find/The friends you make.”
Long Way Down contains all the ingredients of classic ’70’s AOR. Great hooks and tasty lead guitar playing. From the opening – you know a fine song is coming. Vocal and writing duties shift to, lead guitarist Keyo for Friends. Of all the surprises so far – this is the biggest. Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted this. Friends could have come from a late ‘60’s psych/folk record, which nobody bought – but has since become a cult classic. Like Roy Harper fronting a band formed, in a garage, in suburban San Francisco.
The band have been in existence for five years. Pencils are readily sharpened and instruments finely tuned. Waiting, a gentle song, further reveals Keyo’s ability as a vocalist. Combined with Steve’s backing harmonies, it’s maybe the best vocal of the album along with the previously mentioned This Is It. “It’s alright/It’s OK/We are just fine.” It holds perfectly with the song’s message. Shape Or Form is jaunty and witty. A song with realistic ambitions of what love is and isn’t. Country infused guitar licks. “Don’t want much from you/Just a shape or form again.” Another song which showcases Steve’s talent as a perceptive lyricist is Ringing Of The Bell. Questioning ourselves when we know the answer.
You wouldn’t expect an album like this to end with a soaring rock song or a lighter/iPhone in the air ballad – and it doesn’t. Tomatoes is a strident number with fuzzed organ and guitar. It sounds like it could be at home playing under a comedic chase scene in a B-movie horror.
A.I. is one of those albums that gets better with repeated listens. The sound of a band that has crafted their songs live, gone into the studio and cut them that very same way. An album of seeing humour in the darkest of places; a palette of blue and grey, mortality, love and lust.
The album launch is on April 26 at Zen Bar, Atrium, Adam Street, Cardiff. Information here
Anonymous Iconoclast’s bandcamp’s page is here
The band can also be found on Facebook
All words by Michael Patrick Hicks. More writing by Michael Patrick Hicks can be found at his author’s archive.