iji - Bubble - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

iji - Bubble

by Sean Hewson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-08-07

Bubble is iji's second album and is a concept album of sorts, based around a band dream journal that lead chap Zach Burba then turned, very skillfully as it goes, into a set of intriguing lyrics and charming, danceable pop songs.

iji (pronounced 'eehee') combine clean, indie guitars with Chic rhythms in the same way that Orange Juice did. They also have slightly off-kilter side that reminds me of Stump's attempts to combine Beefheart with pop music. There's a lot of Jonathan Richman in their clean sounds and charm. There's is also a bit of Bryan MacLean of Love in their joyful naivete and the slightly awkward jumble of the words. The thirteen songs here are all short and change frequently. They like to drop in the odd surprise - an '80s sax solo in What's Real or the way Candle Flame moves between a section that sounds like Stump and a section that sounds like The Free Design, and then ends with a totally unrelated instrumental coda.

Concept albums can sometimes be a bit clumsy but I love the often hypnagogic lyrics, especially the series of images on Losing Track Of Time. I also like that there are a couple of scenarios that could be anxiety dreams but are presented as joyful events. In Wild Music the dreamer is playing sax on stage but admits to not being that competent. Instead of this being a source of anxiety he just plays 'wild music, free music.' The Pattern Grows is about the impossible search for order. But when, in the end section, Burba sings 'the pattern grows clearer' whilst the rest of the band sing 'watch the pattern change', it is done more in celebration than in fear.

These two lines are a good way of summing this album up. Thirteen short songs that change constantly. Lyrics and instrumental lines often tumble out in a charmingly awkward way. But the songs are rooted by the album's two unsung heroes - Jake Jones on drums and Will Murdoch on bass - as long as they are playing, 'the pattern grows clearer'. The one criticism I have is that iji either lack the ability or the desire to write a big, simple chorus and some of these songs need it, especially as the album starts to meander a bit towards the end. But, on the whole, a thoroughly enjoyable, clever, charming album of genuinely hypnangogic pop.

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