Review: IAMX – The Unified Field

Chris Corner never makes it easy on his listeners, one needs to earn their place at the IAMX table. Listening to a new IAMX album requires patience, time and a keen attention to detail. Rarely does he bring forth straight ahead pop or accessible rock, instead a typical IAMX album is replete with thematically complicated anthems, dirges and operatic calls to action. And when it works it’s just this side of brilliant. On The Unified Field, it works.

More consistently interesting than Volatile Times but without the more traditional pop ethos of Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, this album plays to Corner’s strengths beautifully. The soaring vocals, the tortured lyrics, the ever-present drama, the unending buckets of bombast – it’s all here, and while some of these tics can become cloying when the material isn’t strong, when the songwriting is solid, these qualities only accentuate the strengths. And Corner is very much on his songwriting game here.

The album works from all ends – the sensitive ballads that incorporate more guitar or other traditional instruments (like “Come Home” or “Quiet the Mind”), the faster, more intense songs, (“Walk With the Noise”, “I Come With Knives”), or the hard-to categorize (see: the slinky-intense “Sorrow”; the gorgeous, utterly melodramatic “Screams”; the tango-tinged “Land of Broken Promises”) – this album is packed with a grab bag of styles, each of which works well, because musically and lyrically, Corner is still willing to take chances with his “sound”. While there’s a distinct IAMX aura, each album brings something unique to the party. One of Corner’s greatest talents is an ability to keep changing things up without sacrificing who he and his project really are. It’s a hard balancing act to pull off but he does so in spades.

First listen: Huh,well this is…interesting. Successive listens: Holy shit, this is brilliant with a touch of the sleazy. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know just how much that is this blogger’s sweet spot, and Corner lands it. It’s a must-own. It’ll challenge you, but the work put in is so very much worth it.

He’s done it again. He continues his rise to become one of the most important electronic artists we have. Lucky for us.

Watch: I Come With Knives

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