WE REVIEW THE NEW EP FROM KEEP BACK IVY – WHERE WE ARE GOING
Singing drearily of the often bleak political landscape, vocalist Emma Saynor’s eery yet pristinely clear vocals are the perfect accompaniment to Keep Back Ivy’s electronic soundscapes, themselves an amalgamation of post-punk and synth-pop. Until now releases have come only in the form of singles, making the duo’s debut EP – Where We Are Going – their first significant release.
And it’s a grim one. At times Saynor sounds audibly broken during these cynical narrations of a fracturing world. Take the title and closing track; it opens with field recordings of an urban landscape before Saynor, devoid of all hope, remarks ‘I don’t know where we are going’ before doubling back on this uncertainty with the displeasing dogma, ‘we know we’re going nowhere.’
Almost apocalyptic in tone, the song sounds like it ought to accompany the closing moments of a cinematic thriller, with protagonist defeated and the camera panning outwards to display their insignificance to this world – cheerful stuff.
Equally impressive is the EP’s opener ‘Won’t Forget You’ – a twisted electro-waltz that’s devilishly macabre in its oddness. There are hypnotically beautiful string arrangements and thick slabs of Andy Fretwell’s bass underpin a nightmarish instrumental, over which vocals viciously attack the betrayal of politicians. The band themselves have spoken about their disillusionment regarding the Labour party, which is heard sardonically here.
‘Endless Cycle’ – a weirdly drone-inspired track – is an unfortunately messy selection of sounds. Its constituent parts are curious, but the nexus of these parts form a claustrophobic noise wall that warps Saynor’s voice. Likewise, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ builds on an awkward interplay between voice and drums. The jarring percussion doesn’t combine well with Saynor’s vocals, despite the song being, at its core, smartly structured.
That said, the highs of this EP are mountainous. Keep Back Ivy are a striking group that does well to capture the political ephemera. It’s not the most instrumentally tight album, but given the subject matter, perhaps this aesthetic is a neater fit than it may initially sound.