November 23, 2016 Icon For Hire – You Can’t Kill Us (Album Review)
Growing up, some just know at an early age what their calling is in life. Dreams and aspirations few are brave enough to explore, Ariel Bloomer knew she wanted to be Rockstar from childhood. Growing up in Decatur, Illinois, she spent most of her teen years planning to form her own band, and in 2007, founded Icon For Hire with Guitarist/Keyboardist Shawn Jump. Spending the next few years touring the Midwest, writing music, and honing their skills, by late 2009, they were signed on with Tooth & Nail Records prior to releasing their successful 2011 debut album, Scripted. Continuing to build a following through touring, they dropped their self-titled album in 2013, garnering them critical praise. Bold, true to themselves, and standing above the noise, they return in 2016 with their brand new album, You Can’t Kill Us. Due out November 25th, their latest effort was funded independently with the band looking to up the ante once more.
How deep do they go with You Can’t Kill Us? Bloomer states, “We created You Can’t Kill Us directly for our fans, which made us get more vulnerable than ever. Mental health, self-harm, addiction – no topic was off limits in the pursuit to connect with our listeners in the deepest way possible.” Compelling on that statement alone, the thirteen tracks certainly live up to the hype. For example, “Supposed To Be” examines others perceptions and challenges while crashing beats and Pop-like vocals unify. Here, a defiant attitude trades places with short uncertainty and wraps it all in piercing vocals. Then, “Demons” fights with unshakable resolve to hang on to sanity. Encouraging and powerful, the track punches left and right with heart.
Continuing the energetic push, “Get Well II” is met with hard-hitting beats and vocals while tackling the reality of a hypocritical society. This is before the frenzied and wild “Pulse” with speeding singling from Bloomer, matched with yet another stomping beat. Possessing a futuristic feel, the stuttering special effects create layers to the rebellious tone. Thereafter, “The Magic” features a twisted child-like vibe before bursting out with passion. Challenging, with a few complex pieces, the overall feel is simple and from the heart. Contemplative, “Happy Hurts” dives deep into mental illness and why it affects some the way it does. Furthermore, “Here We Are” tackles uncertainty in life, but coming out stronger on the other end of it all.
The sense of overcoming is explored further with the Pop Rock gem “Invincible,” with resolute lyrics colored by the determined inflection of the vocals. Then, “War” takes a step back into an apocalyptic feel, as heavy emotion permeates the track. Layers of instrumentals add up, creating a build-up of conflict, one which still conveys a message of battling on. Mood shifting, “Too Loud” is bold and cheeky in spreading a message of accepting people for who they are, providing a harsh challenge to anyone who would stand in the way of someone trying to shine. Reaching further into darker emotions, “Under The Knife,” despite it all, offers a hopeful message that is clearly show. Powerful both in sound and lyrical posture, “You Were Wrong” features Rap style vocals of Bloomer, a style that matches fittingly. Finally, “You Can’t Kill Us” concludes the roller coaster ride with a soulful story set to a militant beat. Mixed emotions dress the song, which ends on an extremely positive note.
You Can’t Kill Us is fueled full of powerful energy and incredible vocals from Bloomer. Each track is heavy, dragging many issues kicking and screaming into the light for closer examination. Utilizing a mixture of Electronic, Pop, Rap, and Rock, Icon For Hire creates a sound that is very unique all their own, making You Can’t Kill Us their boldest release to date. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out 5 stars.