The Effort - Iconoclasm (Cover Artwork)

The Effort

Iconoclasm (2008)

Words of War

I just discovered the Effort's music last week. I two-stepped my Pabst Blue Ribbon-filled heart out during their set (ironic since they are a straight-edge band? Oh well), freaked out because they didn't have their Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"-inspired T-shirt in my size (look for it soon on their webstore), and bought their first full-length at a house show. I've become mildly obsessed with this record since that night; this band may currently be filling the Modern Life Is War void in my heart. Iconoclasm has not left the car CD player until tonight. Although all I've heard from their previous EP is "All This Time" -- the song previously featured on their MySpace page -- I can guarantee any fan that it's just as good as what landed on their full-length, which I will now praise for about two paragraphs.

The lyrical content is, in my opinion, the most impressive aspect of this record. The liner notes include four footnotes, each about 200 words, describing the lyrics and inspiration for those lyrics in further detail. How many times do you wonder what a lyricist meant by a certain line? Tony of the Effort isn't leaving anything up to interpretation, and I feel almost awkwardly close to this man after reading precise descriptions of the meanings behind his songs. Lyrics throughout the record angrily touch on divorce, self-motivation, the reasons behind the choice to be drug-free, voting and the separation between church and state -- all relatable on one level or another. The intelligent lyrics are like poetry -- they often rhyme and are given a catchy rhythm over the melodic beat, beckoning you to sing along while you bob your head and throw up your hands to indicate the lyrics you appreciate most. The second track, "The Price of Medication" (the first actual song -- Track 1 is a series of audio clips from television and radio broadcasts) might be the best. The tempo doesn't change much, but as the chords ring and then hit quickly and hard, you can feel the drums pushing the angry sick-of-this-point-in-my-life lyrics that many a 20-something can empathetically sing or scream ("I've loathed those who don't know what it's like / to be the loser in a constant fight / because we're stuck in a backwards game / where no one gives a fuck if you don't want to play").

The sound ranges from face-paced to mid-tempo, always allowing the lyrics to come through clear and audible, with the added power of gang vocals at times. The guitars tend to be quickly palm-muted with melodic riffs intertwined. The drums are all over the place and carry you through the songs while assisting your head bobbing to the rhythmic lyrics.

I definitely find myself bobbing my head thorough the entire record and imitating two-stepping arm and shoulder motions while sitting at my desk.