I Am Electric - Thrush (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

I Am Electric

Thrush (2005)


Fans of music are a very, very fickle bunch. It's often the same things they seek in music that they rip a band apart for doing. Many say they want the records they love to fit a very specific, set style, and when that style is met those same fans pine for something less generic. Many say they like diversity in their music, but when it's presented for them in a very diverse fashion, they say it's not focused enough. The old adage that "you can never please everyone" rings more true in the musical community than possibly anywhere else. So it's interesting to speculate as to just what people will offer in their opinions of I Am Electric, who sashay across more genre boundaries than feminists across picket lines.

In a word, energy. Raw, unrelenting energy. Combining a fiery post-punk swagger with discordant screamo rhythms, and even some blues, Thrush is a musical pentathlon, combining all the talent and intensity they can muster, and presenting it in a very unique manner. This is one band that I none of you will be pigeonholing.

This whole danceable post-punk trend that was in full swing about a year ago seems to be dying out, but I'd be lying if I said I Am Electric doesn't integrate at least a little bit of that sound into their record, as the bouncy "Bird In The Head" leads off the record. It's not overly obnoxious as a lot of bands who make that style their living, and the band is a lot more musically proficient playing that style than most. But since this album is about stylistic and rhythmic changes, I Am Electric puts that into effect with the one two punch that is "Assembly Line People Program" and "Art Of Kanly." The pace is dramatically slowed down, allowing lead singer Shane Asbridge's unique and gritty style to connect the songs between long and dramatic instrumental passages. Dissonant riffing, subtle drumming, and the straining vocals all work to pull these songs into something, and the execution is flawless. The latter of those two songs really shows the great musical interplay, and the style and tempo shifts that take place on a dime. All seven members of this band have their niche and specific time to shine. The end of "Art Of Kanly" slows things down for Asbridge to repeat "He stuck the knife into my third and fourth ribs, and took the rest to make a crown, he took the rest to make a crown for himself."

The morbid imagery with subtle singing in the backdrop creates an eerie picture in your head until the guitars come back in to lead the song to its finish. The band never allows itself to become to comfortable in one set of shoes before switching to the next, and the diversity that tends to bog down a lot of bands does nothing here but show the music in its individuality and expand on those talents. "Superior Machines" brings out an ambient, almost industrial-sounding side of the band, while "Emperor Lloyd Moffet Is Alive" showcase some blues guitar, and even a bit of scatting at the beginning. These aren't the band's best moments, but it definitely says to a listener that they're willing to put something different out there. Where the band is at their best is when the dissonant guitars are raging and Asbridge is wailing above it all.

Thrush is a tremendous debut from a band who, only an album into their career, are obviously very comfortable in their own two shoes, or fourteen shoes as the case may be. Regardless of genre and musical direction, I Am Electric holds their own, and holds a listener's attention, blues riff and passionate screaming alike. A record like this is sure to have its detractors, but if ever there was a band whose effort you can't knock, this is it.