Formed in 2014 and having gathered traction with a series of well-received EPs, the four-piece Ist Ist is a band with an unmistakably Manchester sound. Their long-awaited debut LP arrives in the form of ‘Architecture’, and it is a most satisfying listen.
Opener ‘Wolves’ raises the curtain brilliantly, tieing together ominous washes of synths, brooding baritone vocals and howling trails of guitar and leaving a mouth-watering taste of what’s to come. The urgent ‘You’re Mine’ is an atmospheric post-punk treat with its low slung basslines and ear-catching refrain, while ‘Black’ delivers something more melodic and introspective.
On ‘Discipline’, prominent synth lines pair intricately with the guitars, adding to the rhythm section’s sturdy output. Like the bulk of the tracks here, it’s kept short enough for maximum impact. ‘A New Love Song’ forms something of a centrepiece, where industrial gloom is coupled with shadowy eroticism, a sparse and punchy sound that puts analogue electronics in the spotlight.
Much has been overstated in some circles about the band’s level of musical debt to Joy Division, and although the musical bloodline may be hard to ignore on a track like ‘Silence’, musical dots can often be joined with anything from DAF to Nick Cave. Hard edged riffs add an extra dimension to what is often clearly the sound of the city they hail from.
Brighter rays shine through the sullen lyrical atmosphere and playful percussive patterns of ‘Drowning In The Shallow End’, before ‘Nights Arm’ arrives powered by impressive dynamics and a blistering uproar of a chorus. On ‘Under Your Skin’, darkly reflective and haunting moods are countered by stabs of forceful bass, and during superb closer ‘Slowly We Escape’, gradually building atmospherics suddenly make way for an increase in pace and a striking instrumental coda to end this debut on a high.
Managing to accomplish such a mature and defined sound on a debut album is an impressive feat for sure. A gritty and deep collection of tracks, yet hook-laden and accessible enough to stand out on other levels.