For whatever reason, Tooth & Nail just hasn't really offered that many headline female-fronted artists in their lineup. But last year, we did get a dose of their latest sensation The Letter Black, whose vocals belonged to Sarah Anthony. But like some of the staff on JFH, I found The Letter Black to be generally lacking in sensation. However, on the heels of TLB's first album is the debut of another one of T&N's recent signings, Icon For Hire. This girl driven trio is poised to offer steady rock tunes with an edge in their first project, Scripted.
So why should you be interested in Scripted? Well, the vocals for one thing. Lead singer Ariel's voice runs seamlessly through the tunes without ever going overboard like her fellow label mates in The Letter Black. Aside from her gifted voice, the production is sharp, and flaws are few and far between. Icon For Hire has a good, clean, fast-paced approach to their rock music, and their album overall is quite enjoyable. However, the reason you shouldn't be interested in the trio is the fact that you have heard it all before. The band borrows their elements from other female fronted acts like Flyleaf, Fireflight, and Paramore at an alarming degree.
With some synth alongside, the first single "Make A Move" provides a good reference point for potential buyers who want to get a feel for the group's style. The impassioned vocals on top of the catchy beat and aggressive guitars provide a good listen. The chorus in "Get Well" is effective, and the tune on "Iodine" is brief but infectious. The piano-driven ballads, "The Grey" and "Only A Memory," contain a fair amount of emotion, but both lack staying power. The album ends crisply with "Pieces," a song which only improves as it progresses.
Like the music, Icon For Hire's lyrics are also a mixed bag. The band showcases some pretty decent songwriting throughout the album ("Get Well" says "And being lonely's only fun in a group/It sort of loses its charm when it's true"). However, in their attempts to be poignant, the band's lyrics tend to go over the top, like in "Iodine" ("Depression's like a big fur coat/It's made of dead things but it keeps me warm"). Although the group doesn't wear their faith on their sleeve in their messages, the lyrics encourage their listeners to confront their inner demons while often focusing specifically on self pity. "The Grey" does sport some spiritual references though, "I don't wanna look you in the eyes you might call me away/I don't wanna give you the chance to make me stay/… You tell me/In your deepest pain/In your weakest hour/In your darkest night/You are lovely."
Lyrics aside, Scripted is really for two kinds of people: fans of chick-rock fronted bands with a pop edge, or those who have never heard of Fireflight or Flyleaf and think they might enjoy what rock might sound like with female vocals at the helm. However, if you are the type who has serious peeves about artists who simply walk in the paths others have paved, then the well-produced, debut album will probably not impress you on any level. To recap, complete with puns: although Icon For Hire's first album is well-acted with slick, catchy refrains, they never deviate from the script to truly be a genuinely remarkable production.
- Review date: 8/22/11, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com