Reviews IAMX Kiss + Swallow (Reissue)

IAMX

Kiss + Swallow (Reissue)

When a press pack goes on and on about an artist's former band and all you can remember about them is a single that maybe cracked the Top 20 (but you’re not sure), you know they’re clutching at straws.

So it is with Chris Corner, former member of Sneaker Pimps and the mind behind IAMX. Kiss + Swallow, his debut album, was actually released way back in 2004 but this review is aimed at the US reissue which has finally emerged this year. Before we get into the meat of this, let’s play around with slagging something off. Always fun, never a chore.

I have a problem with musicians who label their work as "art." Not because I have an issue with the concept in and of itself – I am of the considered opinion that all music is art, since it is a cultural facet with highly evolved arbitrary aesthetic values. My bugbear is that musicians who make a big deal of it tend to be useless arseholes. If you claim that your music is some kind of multi-sensory experience or that it’s only a small part of the amazing wraparound beauty of your project then chances are that not only is your project a big pile of wank, but your music is shit too.

It simply is not enough to claim that because you have a visuals screen behind you and you dress up like a Tudor pimp that your music is more than just music. Unless you can make your power chords smell like strawberries, it simply ain’t so. And if you think that putting on clothes and doing stuff on stage makes you more than just another band, you might want to go watch some of your local acts perform similar amazing stunts like playing on stage in clothes. And oh, Chris Corner is one of these guys. See, there was a link.

The quandary I find myself in is that despite the above and the fact that Corner loves to infuse his work with a swaggering, metrosexual sense of schoolboy depravity (another of my pet hates), IAMX are actually pretty good. None of it is new ground, but Kiss + Swallow is a welcome bite of the glam electro pie where songcraft and sleazy atmospherics go hand-in-hand.

Like Fischerspooner, IAMX has transcended the typical cockfaced buffoonery of the art-electro world to make some music that is actually decent. Unusually for the genre, the songs are at their best when they are the most chilled, with the twinkling sequencer work of "Heatwave" and "Your Joy is My Low" particular highs. The album speeds up to a routine stomp with the dirtier, more dancefloor-friendly tracks but the relative variety on show is impressive. There are elements of more traditional electro-pop on display here, but all infused with a distinctly 21st century vibe. If nothing else, Corner knows his influences damn well. What marks this out is that he knows how to make them sound fresh.

You can almost forgive him for looking like a prick in that ruff. Almost.

7.0 / 10Matt T.
See also
Fischerspooner, Goldfrapp, Portion Control, Depeche Mode
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