Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ipso Facto Single Review - Harmonise/Balderdash

It’s remarkable how something once mocked so mercilessly can gain a kind of avant-garde respectability. Ipso Facto are part of that particular set of British bands cribbing feverishly from the great goth acts of yore, and getting away with it in the full, indulgently approving view of the NME. How does this happen? How does one generation dismiss it as a silly obsession with coffins and snakebite and the next embrace it as… a delightful obsession with coffins and snakebite? Mystified, but pleasantly surprised, I can’t find it in my heart to complain.

‘Harmonise’, their first single, is decent stuff. It’s sparse and angular, but too melodic to be dissonant. Best of all it has some neat horror show keyboards. But singer Rosalie Cunningham sounds so much like Siouxsie Sioux that it’s distracting. Cunningham does an admirable job of mimicking her delivery and typical vocal melodies. However, it mostly serves to point out the fact that she lacks Siouxsie’s range, daring and attitude. It made me want to listen to ‘Night Shift’, not another Ipso Facto song. It’s both amusing and sad that they opened for several of Siouxsie’s recent UK dates. Was our inimitable doyenne oblivious to the similarities, or was Siouxsie just trying to prove how much better she is? She needn’t go to such lengths.

B-side ‘Balderdash’ fares better. It’s a nice, fast paced little slab of this updated, hybridized garage surf/goth business. And Cunningham doesn’t seem to be trying so hard to sound like someone else.

It’s a good effort, not perfect or mind-blowing, but somehow engagingly gawky. I’m curious to see how this little movement evolves. There’s room for growth and improvement, but that’s a good thing. It means they’re worth watching.

-N. Votta

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