The dreamy pop of Ivy is cultured, having been refined for the last decade over four albums. The music that starts off the disc, especially “Nothing But The Sky”, does not cut as deep as it could. Everything seems to traverse the same narrow swath during the 5:12 of the track, ultimately leaving a certain hollowness and lack of depth that plagues the band throughout the disc. “Thinking About You” is a quicker-tempo track that just feels groomed for alternative rock radio, even down to the thin vocals tendrils that caress and are caressed by the impeccably placed strings on this disc. The late-nineties dance-influenced “Keep Moving” (influenced largely by Pet Shop Boys, Parklife-era Blur and Erasure) is a nice trip back to more halcyon days, but aside from its euphonic style, it really leaves listeners cold. This is due to the artificiality of the try, which decontextualizes the organic instruments on the track (bass and horn) and makes them almost wholly into samples.
Everything on “In The Clear” is constructed with an indifferent and detached air that individuals listening to the CD cannot connect to the band. The sly, semi-sultry vocals present on tracks like “Four In The Morning” are aurally very catchy, coupled with a fitting bass line and it is this pop-friendly sound that will win many an individual to Ivy’s defense. Ivy finally begins to connect with their fans during “Corners of Your Mind”, a track that has an urgency to it that belies the laid-back sound of the rest of the disc. The bass (even more prevalent) is coupled with a piano to make for a sound that just tugs at a listener’s mind, heart, and body. The angular guitar lines (Franz Ferdinand-esque) mixed with the Spandeau Ballet-sounding vocals during “I’ve Got You Memorized” is the distilled essence of what Ivy is; an amalgamation off the major currents from music of the last twenty years.
Ivy is a talented band that can put together in less than five minutes a track that exemplifies all the best facets of popular music. However, it is their lack of connection with their audience that really provides the most major of problems with “In The Clear”. This lack of connection would most likely disappear in a more organic setting, but in the controlled environment that is “In The Clear”, the band struggles with the problem throughout.
Top Tracks: Feel So Free, Keep Moving
Ivy – In The Clear / 2005 Nettwerk / 10 Tracks / http://www.ivytheband.com / http://www.nettwerk.com / Reviewed 07 May 2005