Ivy League TX
Fist in the Air Records/6131 Records
05 August 2013
by Tomas Doyle
Apparently everyone has been touting (and indeed condemning) Ivy League TX as “Title Fight 2.0”. That’s cool, everyone’s got to pigeonhole new bands, right? I mean, it’s important to do that so we can make sense of the musical landscape. Put everything in a neat little box and then dismiss it if something else was already in that box (or what you perceive to be that box). That’s exactly how it should be. Right? RIGHT?!
Of course, Ivy League’s debut album Transparency does sound a bit like Title Fight’s excellent second studio full length, Floral Green (it’s worth noting that being compared to really good music is better than being compared to really shit music), but it also takes influence from a bunch of other bands. A dash of Basement here, a smidge of The Story So Far there, a sprinkling of Daylight and Make Do and Mend thrown in for good measure. Naturally there’s the insistent drum beats and cracked vocal style that has become the calling card of this scene, but within that there are some genuinely interesting arrangements, well assembled choruses and powerful lyrical flourishes. That’s all stuff you can’t fake just by being part of a collective of other acts; that shit is genuine craft.
Even better, Ivy League have managed to avoid falling too deeply into the grunge trap that more and more bands of this ilk seem to be succumbing too. The preoccupation that groups like Citizen have with staring at their shoes is eschewed here in favour of ramshackle punk, and the band are at their best when they stick the pedal to the floor as they do on the likes of ‘Void’ and delirious opener ‘Canopy’.
Of course, as with most debuts, it’s not a record without it’s faults. There’s a slight tendency to wander into self indulgent territory and tracks like ‘Daily Pt.2’ feel a little disjointed and under cooked. Meanwhile, the album as a whole somewhat lacks the structure that would make it an even more enjoyable listen.
Nevertheless, this is an LP which should curry plenty of favour with fans of the exploding “emotive punk rock” niche, while a guest spot from letlive.’s Jason Butler on ‘All My Skeletons’ may pique the interest of an broader range of ears. My advice? Don’t cage Ivy League in or over-define the joy out of Transparency, just enjoy it for what it is. Not everything has to be a (title) fight to see who owns the inside of a box, y’know.
Sounds Like: Basement, Daylight, Make Do and Mend
Standout Tracks: Outlier, Compass, Witness