On their new, self-released full-length album, Amorphous, which drops on February 19, Icon For Hire sound powerfully triumphant.
The compelling album is the fourth full-length effort from the Nashville pop-rock duo, whose discography stretches across ten years all the way back to 2011’s Scripted (and slightly beyond). This latest record poignantly continues the project’s longtime fresh and emotionally invigorating energy.
Over the years, Icon For Hire have operated in diverse sonic spaces, from straight-up hard rock and a more meditative rock vibe to synth-heavy jamming, and here, the project combines a synthy journey with jarring hard rock riffs. Seriously: at some points on this record, the guitars (which feature a familiar swagger-inflected tone) land like cracks of lightning.
“Enemies” nicely exemplifies the force of the guitars. Each guitar blast feels percussive, like an assertive musical confrontation with the shadows. There’s also a brief moment of memorably heavy and rather jarring riffage in the latter half of “Curse or Cure,” a track which the band have previously released as a single.
Throughout the consistently rather flourishing Amorphous, Icon For Hire maintain their strong, emotionally resonant edge. Within this collection of songs, there’s a sense of self-contemplation that shines through the instrumentals themselves, in addition to the consistently striking and incisive lyrical observations from vocalist Ariel Bloomer.
The bombastic synths and poignant melodies feel smooth and organic, and there’s space within the songs themselves, which consistently feel rather breathable, where there’s a chance to really feel the emotional impacts of these melodies and sonic ideas.
Across Amorphous, Icon For Hire reveal some seriously catchy hooks that feel grounded in a kind of emotional grit but remain unmistakably propulsive. This combination of the music’s consistently forward-moving energy with a sense of emotional unease makes the album feel like weathering a formidable metaphorical storm, and although there are prominent moments of cathartic triumph on the record, there’s still a definite sense of the travails and potential pain of the journey, which solidifies the music’s personal grounding.
Icon For Hire build quite a formidable sonic universe around their hooks. The confrontational—but not necessarily harsh or abrasive—guitars from the project’s Shawn Jump start promptly on “Brittle,” which is the record’s first full-length track after an intro, and the guitars take a more prominent place on the following track, “Curse or Cure.”
Meanwhile, vibrant synths streak across the record with the force of neon-tinted lightning flashes, and this side of the album smoothly interweaves with the rest.
On “Panic Attacks,” Bloomer utilizes a noticeably hip-hop cadence for the verses, and this element meshes organically with the rest of the creation. The exploratory vibe in her delivery mirrors a throughline of a kind of musical wistfulness on tracks like “Enemies,” where the synths feel almost haunted.
The instrumentals all feel quite grounded, but these brasher moments feel like wandering through a metaphorical little shop of horrors filled with sights from within the mind. This feeling in the instrumentals definitely fits; on “Enemies,” Bloomer sings about becoming too cozy with problems like depression and addiction.
Within the world of Amorphous, Icon For Hire definitely reach a place of relief, and the musical journey feels very accessible. Musically speaking, tracks like “Warrior” hinge on a kind of familiarly mid-tempo rock triumph, while lyrically, Bloomer lays out what feels like a mission statement for the album on “Brittle,” when she sings, “Keep breathing, don’t lose focus; You’re alive, you’re not a diagnosis.”
Overall, there’s a cathartic freedom in the often rather direct force of the sound and lyrics, and the journey of Amorphous feels emotionally refreshing.