Written by Chelsea Jenkins. Media by Miles Priester.
A blend of hard rock, electronica, and pop punk vocals, Icon for Hire’s self-titled sophomore album (which debuted October 15th) is a whiplash of an album with the bite of a 14-year-old girl whose idea of rebellion is pink hair and a Green Day hoodie. Comprised of vocalist Ariel, guitarist Shawn Jump, bassist Josh Kincheloe, and drummer Adam Kronshagen, Icon for Hire’s latest recording is for fans of Paramore, Flyleaf sound-alikes, and Linkin Park.
While Scripted was pure pop-punk, Icon for Hire is frequently laden with a dubsteppy buzz, electronic renderings, and pre-recorded drum loops, with some hard rock peeking through. There were tracks I truly enjoyed for the music and vocals, but not necessarily the writing. “Cynics and Critics,” the album’s opener, is a driving rocker that’s brisk and exhilarating, and segues naturally to the second track, “Nerves.” The real trouble starts with track 3, “Sugar & Spice,” which is so systematically a Linkin Park track, and continues through “Hope of Morning.” “Sorry About Your Parents” offers a bit of redemption with a return to harder punk pop roots and a catchy hook that made me want to put it on repeat. The rest of the album offers little but stylistically decent choruses nestled between fairly boring, overproduced verses. It isn’t until “Rock and Roll Thugs” that I start to get excited again, only to have the experience marred by the whiny, stale, battle cry lyrics of a teenager devoted to their rock and roll music- because mom, dad, and the preacher just don’t understand.
Icon for Hire ultimately fails because of the band’s inability to find its identity, especially in frontwoman, Ariel. She bounces around from singing as herself to sounding like Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm (first noticed in “Hope of Morning”), to evoking Paramore’s Hayley Williams (see “Watch Me”), to even exacting the first several seconds of Lady Gaga’s “LoveGame” in “Think I’m Sick.” As someone who truly loves music, it’s difficult for me to reward (or enjoy) copycats for creating a lesser version of an artist’s work. Icon for Hire exudes their namesake with their borrowing from others for profit. I’m not a believer when Ariel insists, “pop culture does nothing for me…mainstream just bores me.” She wields her scissors to clip from the magazine of pop culture to create her own collage of a music career.
Icon for Hire, Icon for Hire: D+