Iwrestledabearonce are not famous for playing by the rules. Nor are they particularly known for their sweetness, calming music, or commonplace sense of humor. And that’s exactly what’s so great about ’em. And with their second studio album, Ruining It For Everybody, IWABO certainly don’t disappoint anyone who still holds them to those deliciously devilish and high standards – but they’re not about to let you get away without a few surprises, either.
Opening track “Next Visible Delicious” is a whirlwind of sound straight from the beginning. Starting off with a bubbly electronic section, it soon turns into a series of raspy, blood-curdling, staccato screams curtesy of ever-girl-crush-worthy front woman Krysta Cameron. But, not a moment too soon, those yelps lend themselves to a more eerie quality as Cameron’s vocals turn sing-song and childlike. But that’s not all. The second half of the song is here, and FAST. I’m talking out of the gate like a power-up in Mario Kart. Wailing guitars compliment a sweeping piano part that seems to trip like icy water down the chord progression, and drummer Mike Montgomery shows off his skill with a double bass part that will have your shins aching just listening to it. “You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices” continues along that same riotous vein with Cameron’s strongly sung melody punctuated by pinprick vocals and madcap guitar licks that occupy the very upper half of the register. A ghoulish interlude that sounds like a handicapped version of The Cramps, complete with a broken-down upright bass line and the “uh-huhs” that pyschobilly so lovingly claims, is also a delight, along with the sound of waves and cawing gulls that accompanies it. Ending the song with a sigh (literally), it’s almost as if one song bumps into another, and without an apology, as “Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly” starts up. A full gospel chorus is the pride and joy of that song, as the unexpected nature of the album becomes fully apparent.
In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to predict what will happen next on Ruining It For Everybody. The beginning style of “This Head Music Makes My Eyes Rain” is strangely reminiscent of bands such as The Notwist, and the technical prowess of Steven Bradley (guitars, keyboards, samples, programming) cannot be denied as his avant-garde electronic composition unfolds track by track. Peppered with angelic vocals and whispers, this song is completely sans screams. And I can dig it!
Not one to disappoint, Cameron’s vocal range is again revealed to be astonishing, as she proves with her exotic sounding part in “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket“. Complimented with triangle, electronic sounds and even gang vocals, IWABO manages to make a somehow elegant cacophony of this track; and it will definitely inspire some quality dancing when it’s played live.
The one thing about listening to Iwrestledabearonce is you have to learn to sort of “listen in the moment”, so to speak. The music is so spastic that you might just miss how cool it sounds. But IWABO are without a doubt born from a certain breed of musician whose talent and style cannot be taught. Ruining It For Everybody manages to be discordant while at the same time artful, composed while in a sense animalistic, and Cameron’s voice often seems to take on a mind of its own, making it seem as if it is only pure accident that the music should follow her lead. Like I said the first time I saw them live in New York, “Some people play heavy music, but Iwrestledabaronce has the devil in them.” And by devil, I mean the passion for playing.
The Final Word: This passion is what guides the album through its ass-backwards, space odyssey style journey. Sexy guitar, staccato structure, awe-inspiring drum work and scrambled electronic sections that make you stop and say, “What even was that?” are all a part of this album, one which seems decidedly more serious and much less cheeky than IWABO’s last, It’s All Happening. Even still, it was easy to enjoy myself listening to it, and I found myself writing such notes as “LET THIS MUSIC RAIN DOWN UPON YOU, THERE IS NO ESCAPE!” and “this outro is amazing omg kill yourself before it ends”. So yes, although this album is somewhat more “grown-up” its crazed energy is infectious, and listeners will have only just begun to familiarize themselves with its creepy samples, out-of-the-blue style changes, and all around wackiness before IWABO will be back with a new record and even more tricks up their sleeves.