Creating a snarky, ironic and sometimes rather noisy set of music, Icarus Himself is the project of Nick Whetro, with the help of Karl Christenson. A playful side of life, sliced in a crisp half-hour, Coffins is an even-tempered, jovial, rollicking affair. And although each song may recall one of Whetro’s great indie rock bands, its cohesive wrapping never comes undone.
Without a doubt, the idiosyncratic lyrics work wonders for Whetro because it gives the music the sense of laid-back air. On “Scars,” Whetro tackles the topic of self-destruction in only the way he can. With a guitar that sounds like Chris Isaak himself is playing, Christenson’s baritone guitar back-drops Whetro’s sharp, disdained delivery.
The album’s chief highlight is “Sometimes I Can’t Stand You, but That Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want You Around.” A whirling keyboard is felt shuffling in the background, while the muffled deliveries of the guitars echo with reverberations. And all the while, Whetro repeats the song title to close everything out. On “Coffins,” the ensuing placidity is something out of Spoon’s book and with those spectral vocals and odd piano-line, it only supports the cause.
Whetro’s singing could certainly benefit from some more rehearsing but you can’t help taking it at face value: he isn’t necessarily trying to sing sweet nothings into your ear. The despair and gloom is everything on Coffins and it comes in the shape of blunt and upfront lyrics. Whether it’s the pessimistic complaining, paired with stabbing guitars and thumping drums on “This Means Nothing” or the Fastball-channeling loser on “35 to Life,” which finds Whetro singing, “Only mother knows…” the conveyance of depression is done in a light-hearted manner with the latter’s cheery guitar interplay.
All in all, it’s a promising debut in a surprising manner. “January (Tennessee)” is the album’s best song and as the music progresses into an angry retort on a broken relationship, Whetro channels said emotion to create the album’s best music. Everything comes crashing down and, fractured and bitten, he sings “As we lie on the mattress we abused, her mouth spits truth.” It’s because of this budding potential that one can look forward to the next album by Whetro, I just wonder if his tongue will remain firmly set in cheek.
“Coffins” by Icarus Himself
“Sometimes I Can’t Stand You, but That Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Want You Around” by Icarus Himself