LICE – It All Worked Out Great, Vol 1 & 2 (2018)

Image credit to LICE

Bristol has been the home of talented bands and artists for decades.  The culture, the people, the west country cider; overall, Bristol has created legends within music.  The Bristol punk scene has been a major influence as well since the 70’s Bristol gave us punk bands like Glaxo Babies and Disorder to current bands such as IDLES.  Now another band is starting to make noise for themselves and shake things up.  Bristol’s LICE, a four-piece punk band, consisting of Alistair (lead singer), Silas (guitarist), Bruce (drummer) and Gareth (bass).  I will be reviewing LICE’s double EP collection, It All Worked Out Great, Vol 1 & 2.

First of all, I have to mention the EP’s artwork.  LICE have a distinctive theme within their art, their talented illustrator, Adrian Dutt, who has designed their work since Nutmilk and Human Parasite delivered the ongoing theme of the wild west giving a cartoonish yet dark touch.  For example, the It All Worked Out Great artwork shows a cowboy from the Human Parasite cover with an arm missing and blood gushing out due to the accident of the machinery portrayed.  It’s gory and cool at the same time, and I am sure this ongoing dark wild west theme is going to continue in future art covers.  I like it as it represents the background and story of their music.

Now focusing on the EP itself.  It All Worked Out Great Vol. 1 contains four tracks.  The first track introduces us to ‘Stammering Bill’.  The intro and drum build up was great.  However, as the singer started I couldn’t understand a word that was said; but it sounded great, and you can hear the musical talent from the band.  This was an indication of LICE’s style, the lyrics are not melody-based but fit in with rhythm, and it works.

LICE have released an official video for ‘Stammering Bill’ displaying the lyrics, and this allows you to understand what the story is based on, and yes it is vivid.  The human race is enslaved by its neuroses, such as a farmer with OCD – obsessed with symmetry, loses an arm, and decides to lose the other one but now he can’t farm.  An accountant with OCD has his paperwork in order but is now distraught due to a breakout of fire damaging his work.  Bill is suspicious of women because he was stabbed by a hooker.  The music video is artistic as it portrays a horse from one of their artwork covers engulfed by fire reflecting the intensity of the over-rolling toms, riffs, bass and screams.  Overall, ‘Stammering Bill’ is a good track.

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The next track is called ‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’, inspired by the piece from George Formby ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ but with a LICE dark twist.  The window cleaner takes pictures of unsuspecting women and sells them, which leads to issues with a client and the competition of another photographer.  The track has slow tempo moments allowing you to listen precisely to the lyrics while slowly giving its intense build ups.

The third track of the EP is called ‘Ted’s Dead’ and features Harry ‘Iceman’ Furniss from the Iceman Furniss Quartet playing cornet solos in the track.  The song is about a recent divorcee who has been told by his doctor that he has an illness and because of this decides to kill his ex-wife and steal his car back.  He finds out, however, that his doctor made a mistake and is detained to live the rest of his life in prison.  Alistair’s lyrical approach is clearer on this track, which I think is good as it allows you to follow the story; furthermore, the solo section from Harry Furniss gives the track a unique touch.  I enjoy the finish with, “at least you’re not dead”.

The fourth track from Vol. 1 is called ‘Love Your Island’.  LICE consider this track to be a monologue and lean to a more political stance.  The track highlights how the English are portrayed as a race of liars and failures in producing an authentic culture of their own; thus, they resort to cynical humour as a disguise.  From what I hear, the track could be considered controversial; however, it is only highlighting how people feel complacent and, therefore, lie to themselves regarding “how much you love your island”.

Vol. 2 consists of the tracks ‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’ and ‘Little John Wayne’ that can be found on the Nutmilk: The Basement Demos, but are now mastered versions.

The intro to ‘Little John Wayne’ is good as it has a chilled western staggering vibe, then surprises you with the intense riffs and drums.  LICE have released the official video for ‘Little John Wayne’ which has the band playing live and travelling across the country.  The lyrics behind ‘Little John Wayne’ are based on abortion and women’s choices which are “easier to control” than the state’s law.  If it is the case of abortion being legalised, it would be easier for men to bully women into making choices against their will.  One thing I like about the track of ‘Little John Wayne’ is the final one-minute outro finisher creating an intense finish.

‘The Gentlemen’s Magazine’ is a tribute to Ben ‘The Rebel’ Wallers of The Country Teasers who supported LICE at many of their shows.  The track focuses on the satirical aspect of misogyny by looking at the insecurities of misogynists and their ignorance.  This song begins with intense riffs, bass and drums which gets you involved in the track, especially as the song is fast-paced with the occasional pauses giving the track more depth.  I couldn’t stop nodding my head.

The final two tracks from Vol. 2,  ‘In A Previous Life’ and ‘Saccharine’ were originally opening tracks; however, they are now closing tracks both under two minutes long.  ‘In A Previous Life’ looks at being surrounded by people you don’t like; thus comparing them to parasites and that the singer must have had done something wrong when he was born.  Simple really.

The final track of the EP collection is ‘Saccharine’ which tells the tale of a neighbour who returns after two months covered in blood to confront his neighbours.  I could not understand the rest of the track, but it is fast-paced and finishes with a sudden scream which works well.

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Overall, It All Worked Out Great is an exciting EP and sounds great.  LICE have been on sold-out tours with IDLES; hence why their name is creating a buzz within the punk scene, and I can understand why.  At times on specific tracks, you may not be able to hear or understand what is being said by the lead singer Alistair; however, what you come to accept and actually like about the band is that it is their unique style.  The band is musically talented, their intense energy, and the screams the band create with their music makes it all comes together.

Another great thing about this band and something I really enjoyed is when taking the time to listen carefully, you can understand the story behind each of the tracks portraying either satire or highlighting issues that at times can be touchy.  The surprise I had was that I was not expecting any of it, but it does make their music more interesting.

On the 24th May 2018, LICE will release their double EP collection It All Worked Out Great, Vol 1 & 2 on Balley Records, the label of Joe Talbot who is the lead singer of the punk band IDLES.  I will definitely keep LICE on my radar for any future releases.  Bristol did it again – nice one lads!

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