Floating through a despondent dream life with iansucks.
On “Warioworld,” the first song on iansucks' album Don't Give In to the Bad Feelings, the band lays out the kind of malaise that befalls anyone once winter approaches. “Stuck in sand sinking, cold hands pull me down / Fight it off to hurt myself,” Emma Mayer sings, describing the hopeless feeling that any attempt at action will only further add to your troubles. The Winnipeg group started with just Mayer and drummer Ian Ellis (the band’s namesake), releasing the album boring stuff go away before expanding and adding a keyboardist and bassist. Don’t Give In to the Bad Feelings offers a more hi-fi version of the downcast indie rock of their first album. The band clearly operates as a shifting group around Mayer and Ellis, with the group of collaborators growing even beyond the two newer members of the band. Their bandcamp states, “On this record, iansucks is Emma Mayer, Kelly Beaton, David Schellenberg, and Ian Ellis,” reflecting the shifting nature of the project. Four of the songs are punctuated with trumpet, sax, and vocal embellishments by other musicians, keeping the cast of players fresh.
“Person Box" is reminiscent of a more mature Moldy Peaches; all of the fuzzy friendliness during the verses, but instead of a chorus built on an inside joke, the band whips out some sleek and haunting harmonies. “Eerie Secret Tunnel 2,” a song featuring shoddy keyboards, acoustic guitar, and an overall frosty production, is right in line with local Brooklyn bands Eskimeaux or Bellows. “Crying” is a standout track, with Mayer sighing “crying is easier” over and over again. Personally, I don’t remember the last time I cried. Maybe Donald Trump scooped away my tear ducts in the night, but the sentiment iansucks conjures is one of utter sadness. You feel the despondency wafting from the singer like the smell of mugcake she’s burning in the microwave. Like life, there’s not any relief in sight. “We could ditch this pain and try to make it out,” Ellis sings on “Shorts” amidst the dark synth squall. She concludes at the end that “maybe I can keep afloat,” but the song’s groaning bass synth casts this possibility adrift in a sea of doubt. Later on “Bedtime,” Ellis sings “Let’s shave our heads / Let's never quit our jobs / Let's go on living dreamlike.” For all of us living in a despondent dream life, iansucks is your band.
Listen to iansucks on bandcamp.
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Mo Wilson is a writer who enjoys collecting posters and still has a CD player. You can find him on twitter @sadgayfriendx.