Not unlike the band itself, LICE's debut album 'Wasteland' stirs to life with an original brand of art-punk that quickly explodes into a dystopian soundscape. Paired with their lyric pamphlet, the album acts as the score to a profound allegory for the power of music over ideologies. It's a musical satire about satire in music. Without the accompanying text, 'Wasteland' still has a unique, jagged punk approach that makes for immersive listening.
It's not hard to see that LICE don't do half measures. Having cut their teeth playing with the likes of Fat White Family and IDLES, the Bristol four-piece have crafted their own take on edgy commentary. Following the sci-fi inspired surrealism of the accompanying pamphlet adds layer upon layer of intrigue over the ever cinematic tunes of their imagined world. The message can be hard to decipher at times when the narrative of 'WASTELAND' gets caught up in its own lore, leaving us lost within its absurdity. But that seems to be the point, highlighting music's inability to convey more than a chorus worth of ideology.
It's an experience to listen to the sinister, demented vibe that LICE have tapped in to. Whether it's by robotically distorting vocals to create android characters or by generating immensely overwhelming oceans of noise, it's hard not to get sucked into the atmosphere of this concept album. The craftsmanship of the band is clear to see in all twelve tracks that manage to invoke guttural reactions, be they disgust, despair or panic. It's musically expressive and emotionally articulate.
'Wasteland' has all the disturbing atmosphere of a David Lynch film, appealing to a morbid curiosity in us that longs to sample the grottiest, grimiest sounds that music has to offer while still being undeniably impressive.