Is/Is: III Review
If the new Is/Is record III sounds somewhat familiar to you when you hear it for the first time this week, it may be because many of the tunes have already been made widely available for early listening. We have been enjoying “Hate Smile,” “Lie Awake,” and “Bomb Me” for much of this spring already. III’s release is still a welcome development though, since not only does it offer an additional grip of tunes, it also coheres them into a singular format – which for me anyway is always the preferred method of listening.
And while the pre-released singles are undoubtedly some of III’s best, the rest of the record has a great deal to offer as well. “Loose Skin” features the trio about as upbeat (and hook-friendly) as we have seen them, though lyrically they are still pretty dark (“you can’t pretend forever / this double in the mirror / has got to tell you the truth”). Stylistically the band stays pretty true to its core sound, which is informed heavily by both post punk and grunge (i.e. lots of guitar distortion, disaffected vocal delivery, et al) though “Untitled One” and “Untitled Two” take the record in an unexpected ambient drone direction. The final two tracks, “Sun Tsunami” and “Save Your Savior” also notably take on a bit of druggy, psychedelic flavor that shows the bands’ influences go much further back than the 80’s and 90’s.
By experimenting with a variety of styles, Sarah Rose (guitar, vox), Sarah Nienaber (bass) and Annie May (drums) have crafted III into and excellently cohesive statement as well as an interesting listen. With a terrific single like “Hate Smile” to follow up on (which was the first single available from III) the band had a high set of expectations to live up to with their follow up material. The rest of III may not be breakout singles every one, but great albums rarely are. The album is strong all the way through and that is far better than something that burn’s bright only briefly and then quietly fades into mediocrity.
— Jon Behm
III will be released tonight at the Turf Club. In addition to Is/Is the show will also feature Heavy Deeds, Acid Baby Jesus (Greece) Fire in the Northern Firs, and Zoo Animal.
The record will also be available via Guilt Ridden Pop (website not updated since 2009 – try a local store like the Electric Fetus, Treehouse or Hymie’s).