You Can't Stay HereSideOneDummy Records
By Cole Faulkner
Long Island, New York punk rock act Iron Chic is one of many aspiring bands to carry the gruff punk flag of honor. Having previously established their brand of no frills melodic gavel-core, the band has become an easy reference point as an up and coming powerhouse in the tradition of Hot Water Music and Off With Their Heads. Their third outing, You Can’t Stay Here, finds the band furthering their stride on their new home with SideOneDummy Records. While the label has been branching out stylistically as of late, You Can’t Stay Here will serve as somewhat of a homecoming for long time fans of the traditionally punk oriented label.
Given even a hint of familiarity with the genre, fans will anticipate that You Can’t Stay coming chalk full of anthemic choruses and big, belted sing along harmonies as a given. Opener “A Headache With Pictures” lands to a surprisingly soft hitting volley of guitar chords before launching into a punchier barrage of rip roaring riffs and gruff lyrical melody. Once they pick up momentum they carry that punch into lead single “My Best Friend (Is A Nihilist),” which unfolds as a surefire hit for the Iron Chic faithful. Compared with their earlier output, the tracks feel like a tamer, more domesticated version of their far more feral former selves. This isn’t to detract from the obvious aggression that Iron Chic continues to command, but more as a statement of the tact that the band has attained over the years. Rest assured though, there are plenty of easily recognizable, larger than life moments flowing from oodles of gang vocal infused tracks like “Let’s. Get. Dangerous.”, “Planes, Chest Pains, And Automobiles,” and “Profane Memories.” Think Nothington with a more experimental nature.
In some ways, the quintet dabbles in elements of post-punk, as well as some unconventional chord progressions, not unlike the type that propped up Count Your Lucky Stars Records in the late 00’s. For instance, “You Can’t Stay Safe” plays out with a muted buzz after opening to the calming reverb of single plucked strings. Likewise, the hazy, semi-conscious acoustic atmosphere of “Ruinous Calamity” feels altogether alien to the brash punk rock powerhouse’s classic output. There’s an astute sense of purpose typically reserved for visionary bands like Brand New or Manchester Orchestra to be found, and it works – albeit in the small doses provided here. That being said, if Iron Chic made a total about face and underwent a complete stylistic overhaul like Attack In Black did between Marriage and Curve of the Earth, they might just pull it off.
You Can’t Stay Here era Iron Chic is an odd creature – familiar and comforting in style, but curious and foreign in substance. The result is an eerie disturbance to what is typically considered to a rather predictable genre. You Can’t Stay Here is anything but the status quo, and Iron Chic is just the right agent to make these unnerving shifts.