Itch: The Deep End – album review
Itch – The Deep End (Banquet Records)
Itch describes himself as a ‘feral street kid’ on his Facebook page. He released his first solo album this week and it builds on the legacy of his former band, King Blues, and takes his punk hip hop sound forward. Louder Than War’s Adrian Bloxham reviews it below.
I’ve been looking forward to this one. Since the demise of the King Blues I’ve been waiting for someone to put out a solid body of something to follow them. Itch has released two free EPs for download and both have been a short sharp slap to the face, I wanted to see if he can keep up the pace for a whole album, if misses the band and if he can carry it on his own.
I’ve had this album now on repeat for around a week and it isn’t in any way a disappointment, it carries on the disenfranchised council estate punk mashed up feelings of his former band and takes them forward. The head rush of the sound gets into your sinuses and makes you feel exhilarated and alive. It is a British Hip Hop Punk Dance Classic.
Itch seems to be thinking about the big picture, that of “what does this all mean and where am I now?” This album is a turning point, a first shout out, a beginning and a full stop to what has come before. He talks about his integrity and his honesty and a pride in what he has achieved here is obvious. He hasn’t mellowed, but there is less overt political shouting and more introspective looks at his own life.
The message of ‘Life is Poetry’ is that of a less than perfect life, much like us all, the way that we have to carry on doing the right thing even when it makes little sense, a fast rapped hard opener. Drum and bass breaks give you the sexy ‘Sun Goes Down’, youth that sleeps all day and is out all night, drunk, dosed and on the pull. ‘Homeless Romantic’ is the first of the epic anthems that pepper the record. Adam Lazarra from Taking Back Sunday adds to the punk rallying call, we are stronger than you think, join together and stand firm.
‘Laugh’ has a jolly whistling bouncing beat under the story of a really bad day, Matisyahu adds a chorus of irresistible laughing, catchy as hell and telling you to laugh at your troubles. Dani Artaud adds a sexy breathless voice to ‘Like I’m Drugs’ a dance squelch, high and full of the rushing love on the dance floor. Which takes you to ‘Another Man’, a fantastic pop chorus from Megan Joy and a funny as fuck story from Itch, from joyful with his new girl to dumped for another man. A great sing-along romp, this could be all over radio one.
Then it switches, as Itch always did, from sounding joyful to pure misery and sleepless nights ‘Bottom of the Glass’ takes you to lamplight on a crumpled quilt and a box of old creased photos and letters. Regret and blame over the end of a relationship. ‘Not My Revolution’ takes you to Itch’s beginning and how he keeps going, if you can’t dance and sing and fall in love then what is the point of doing this, he will stand his ground, but if you aren’t fighting for the right reasons, to make life better, then count him out. A mature message and one I wholeheartedly believe in.
‘The Deep End’ is a beat driven hip hop punk jam. ‘Children of the Revolution’ feels to me like what Itch has tried to say all the way through his work, solo and band. Music built us; we love it and live for it. It’s so far inside us that it defines us and that’s why it means so much to us. The fire of punk powered us this far, history defines us and we need to learn and build on it. Hope and hate glow inside us and is the legacy that we belong to just by listening and singing along. It ends with Itch hoping that his work will add to it, his music will mean as much, be some small part of it. An epic sounding steady growing song; this is outstanding.
‘Best Shot’ is a steady groove about standing your ground and ‘Ricochet’ a bass growl under an angry fast rap, that leads to a dubstep break, it’s guaranteed that this won’t be loud enough the first time you play it.
So there you have it, the next step in the legacy started with the King Blues and now splintering out, breaking up like shrapnel and splintering into your ears and heart. Integrity, hope and some regret … but then isn’t that life?
Louder Than War’s Dave Beech interviews Itch here.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.