By Anthony Toto
Whoever thought pop, electronic music, and industrial rock could mash together so effectively?
Icon For Hire, hailing from Illinois, intertwines pop melodies with electronic samples and metallic guitars at rapid tempos. The band’s assortment of genres creates a unified sound large enough to reach mass audiences.
On their self-titled sophomore album, nearly every song hits the listener with a left field swing. Boring? The most cynical critic couldn’t attack this album for a lack of excitement. With a radical coherence, Icon For Hire establishes a fearlessness to experiment with different genres and create a cataclysmic landscape of sounds.
Vocalist Ariel Bloomer highlights the record with her immense vocal range. Within seconds, she demonstrates a soft-spoken ability to sing irresistible hooks before unleashing a full throttle of aggression on listeners. Her spontaneous energy allows guitarist Shawn Jump and drummer Adam Kronshagen to shift from a punk angst tempo into a piano interlude of sincerity.
Album opener, “Cynics and Critics,” breaks the door wide open in showcasing the band’s arsenal of modern sounds. Bloomer sings with full velocity over an industrial attack of guitar riffs and bass drops. The clap along element within the beat creates the perfect crowd engager for a live setting. The chorus begs listeners to sing-a-long because the hooks are immensely contagious. The momentum this track creates carries across a majority of the album.
“Hope of Morning,” features Bloomer rapidly singing over heavy synthesizer before shifting into an acoustic guitar interlude where she quietly whispers the chorus. The song practically screams for a future appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 because it’s layered with a multitude hooks attractive enough to become a pop sensation.
On “Sorry About Your Parents,” Bloomer confronts some personal subjects regarding a troubled childhood and moving forward without regretting a darker past. Shawn Jump’s guitar leads and chord progressions enhance the lyrical content of the material and provide the perfect backdrop for Bloomer’s intensity.
Bloomer displays lyrical elegance as she sings over a piano on the album’s ballad, “Fix Me.” While the record features a heavy amount of electronic elements, the solo performance spotlights the beauty within Bloomer’s voice and creates one of the most musically intriguing moments on the record.
Icon For Hire deserves a four out of five because the songs consistently deliver memorable melodies with an element of surprise. The band utilizes a variety of modern sounds and the immensity of the production raises the performances to full volume. The songs are attractive enough to draw the casual or underground listener. Mainstream music desperately needs a female fronted band with a sense of originality to further break gender biases. The discrepancy still exists and this band does not follow the blueprint of other female fronted bands. With the accessibility of this latest record, the potential for massive stardom is well within reach.