It has been seven years since Licky’s last album, Press Fire To Continue, which had been released on John Fryer’s promising but now sadly defunct label Something To Listen To. One reviewer had concluded their review of the album with the sentence: “I look forward to them growing up a bit” . So have the two members of the Brooklyn duo “grown up a bit”?
One sure sign of maturity could be the fact that they have self-produced and self-released Under The Gun, which is, in their own words, “a shout out to Devo, Wire, Kraftwerk, Gang of Four, New Order, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode […]‟, revealing references that are resolutely rooted in the 80s.
The fourteen tracks reveal a bit of a split personality. Licky could be thought of as the ultimate New York party band: mad, bad and dumb, they chase the rock’n’roll dream while stumbling drunk into various venues only wearing a stained t-shirt, a ripped pair of jeans and some dirty sneakers. Their trademark mixture of bouncy, bleepy electronics, dirty guitars and baffling lyrics takes over on quite a few of the tracks: Number One With A Bullet, Hey Die, Hottie Hunt, The Boy Can’t Help It, Sexually Active are hyperactive 80’s tinged, playful and danceable electroclash numbers, the soundtrack to a never-ending series of carefree urban antics.
The horribly catchy Lickable Life will most certainly become Licky’s anthem and a live favourite.
But see, Licky is not all about all-night parties, laddish behaviour and girl-chasing around New York City’s hot spots. My favourite tracks on the album are the less bouncy ones; they are the songs that were created when Lips and Sacky dropped the silliness, stopped fidgeting, slowed down and became serious. The song structures really gain from this focus and the duo’s musicianship and song-writing skills reveal themselves. Cyborg is infectious, vaguely edgy; It’s Blood Love is excellent: dark, atmospheric, with the right balance of guitars and brooding electronics, it lasts 7mn30s, enough time for you to appreciate the boys’ skilful sound manipulations. The guitar-led A Certain Loss of Innocence is tinged with some sense of melancholy, and sounds like some kind of comedown and/or hangover after too much partying in the city, you know, when you go “What the hell am I doing with my life?”. Twenty Minutes is also a track worth mentioning, with a long electronic instrumental introduction leading to a rather sweet tale of relationship breakdown done the Licky way (also the topic of the very funky NYX).
So welcome back Licky, yet another antidote to the blandness of a music industry that is drowning under the sheer oily mass of the manufactured, plastic, insipid, lobotomised bling machines it churns out every hour of the day, every day of the year. Let’s keep life lickable!