Bicep – Isles: Review

Artists in the electronic genre always have a consistent motif, even when they take the more abstract approach on the lining of their songs. That is predominately the case on the new album Isles by Biceps, a DJ / Electronic music production duo from Ireland. In a way it doesn’t resemble their debut, as the sound generated from their production is more abstract than the fluid and colorful debut Bicep. Though it doesn’t deliver as impactful as their debut, there is a lot to take from Isles even if it is new found appreciation for chillwave-like influences in the sound.

Isles opens to a series of teasers for the later album, as it transitions from these complex orchestrations that express inner grandeur in the mixing and construction. “Atlas,” and “Cazenova,” are evident of that when the two give this sense of adventure, especially the way it shifts from lowly ominous choral interludes, before letting the synth board take over.

The slight brushes painted at times on the tracks, are subtle and enjoyed. It keeps its consistency, even when it lacks brushes of color on the external layers. And in return it drives home a type of modesty that lets them take a slight half-hazard approach.

On the other hand, one of the driving hooks that keep the ears reeling back is the way they sometimes expand and subvert the genre into an abstract form. Cellist Julia Kent does so on “Rever” with the baritone like strings brushing against the main tracking. It weaves this abstract cry of rough chillwave and ambient backing vocals.

But when they ascend into the defining style of the album in the middle of the pack, sans the certain choices in the track “X“ that takes you aback. It isn’t like the smooth electric percussion on “Sundial,” and instead feels too lenient on keeping a cohesive combination, interloping with the stagnant synths and xylophones that does not go anywhere beyond the “simplest” of forms.

It definitely took me for a spin as it didn’t feel resonate to the smooth construct the opening few tracks have.

However Isles doesn’t evolve beyond moments of grandeur into a nonsensical bombastic, and that allows it to keep composure. More so than the external layers of “Saku,” featuring Clara La San. The mainline electronic sounds shift between depth and minimalism as Clara delivers this somber and effective R&B like vocals. Unlike whatever she does on “X” that is nonsensical. Lucky for us its the only real “huh?” moment.

Isles is a solid release for the Irish duo, even when it isn’t profound as their debut. It’s a good direction to see them in, and further implicating another mainstay in the genre for years to come.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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