There’s something very charming about a band with a highly self-deprecating band name and Bandcamp tags like “very sad” and “:(“. Thus we arrive at iansucks, the duo of Winnipeg’s Ian Ellis and Emma Mayer.
Much like Toronto’s Prom, iansucks prominently latches onto sadness as a driving music force. But unlike Prom’s deep arrangements, iansucks goes a minimalist route, with just a smattering of guitars and eerie synths. Despite the band name coming from Ellis, you won’t hear his voice much—you’ll hear more of him on the instrumental side, while Mayer’s voice will take the forefront for much of the album’s first half.
Not to drive the Prom/iansucks comparison into the ground, but dumb summer and boring stuff go away even begin on the same note. The former’s “television” is a man drowning his sadness in the numbness of TV, while the latter’s “soup” features a man full of regrets, repeatedly telling the listener in a barely-more-than-a-whisper, “never mind last night.” And with the most lo-fi backing imaginable, everything seems that much sadder.
Though the next song, “fire,” is also sad, with lyrics like “I’m feeling down, I don’t know if I’ll make it out,” there’s the addition of the Nice People Choir (presumably just an assortment of nice people providing choral vocals, though it really should be a band name) to give the song some added warmth.
Then there’s “get,” which continues with the quiet atmosphere before “boring life” kicks things up several notches with louder guitars and a faster tempo. But then it’s back to a slightly slower pace with “old people” and from there on in. The rest of the album sees eerily beautiful instrumental tracks (“skip this one” and “sleepytime”), some melodic strangeness (“stairwell”) and even a cover of fellow Winnipegers Tunic (“97”).
It’s nice to see that Toronto isn’t the only city with a penchant for sadness. Perhaps the brutal cold of Winnipeg is encouraging more sad-rock too.
Top Tracks: “fire”; “stairwell”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)