An Epic Album Has Been Scripted | Posted August 22, 2011 Staff Reviewer
Icon For Hire may be a new addition to the roster of promising bands hitting the airwaves recently, but don’t let their freshman status fool you. Hailing from Decatur, Ill., this heavy pop/rock trio is already making waves with their debut release Scripted from Tooth & Nail Records. Just like front woman Ariel’s hot-pink hair, this band brings an unexpected pop of color to the rock scene.
The album opens with a quick “Overture,” featuring strings and electronic elements creating an epic and cinematic sound. This kind of production is woven throughout the entire CD, giving a depth and energy to every song. The sound is sometimes reminiscent of what you would hear on a RED or Fireflight album, which in my opinion puts Icon For Hire in good company.
First track “Theatre,” jumps right into things by letting listeners know there’s no pretending here. Ariel sings, “My life is a musical, I know how to put on a pretty pathetic show.” As Christians, we tend to think we have to look like we have it all together, but life isn’t about pretending. The more we try to be something we’re not, the more we’ll end up losing the person God created us to be. Knowing this, Ariel screams out, “I wanna burn this theatre down…I wanna live like I lost my script!” By the time this first song is over, it’s already obvious this band is about action, not apathy.
Going directly into the band’s first single “Make A Move,” listeners hardly have time to catch their breath before being hit again with the same message. The lyrics “Everybody’s so scared, we don’t wanna go there, we don’t wanna make a move…screaming in the dark while we just play our part,” shed light on the fact that we like to blame others for the problems in this world, and as a result, never take action ourselves. We’re always waiting on someone else to “Make A Move.” This is why in the chorus Ariel begs, “Somebody make a move, we all know what’s going on.”
“Get Well” is an anthem for anyone wanting to put pain and brokenness in the past. Ariel confesses, “We’re not happy until everyone knows we’re sick…I meant it when I said I want to get well.” The sad thing about human nature is that we’re sometimes willing to stay where we are just because it’s easier, even if that means never having the freedom Jesus died for us to have. This song reminds us that “we don’t have to live like this,” because God has much more for us. He wants to make us well.
Every great rock album needs a ballad to show the band’s ability to be diverse. “The Grey” and “Only A Memory” serve this purpose well. “The Grey” starts off with just piano and vocals, then slowly builds adding strings, guitars and percussion. We all have and will do things that cause us to question our relationship with God. These can be very dark and lonely times, making us feel confused and unsure of where we stand. Ariel questions, “How cold have I become, I didn’t want to lose you by what I’ve done, caught in the grey,” but God sings back, “In your deepest pain, in your weakest hour, in your darkest night, you are lovely,” providing the reassurance that we are His child, no matter what we go through. The first and last words of the song are the same – “I am standing on the edge of returning or just running away.” During these dark times we have a choice of who we run to, but God never leaves us.
The second ballad, “Only A Memory” seems to be about a past broken relationship that left a great deal of pain, but in the end Ariel is able to say, “You’re only a memory, this isn’t my identity,” making the distinction that life has its struggles, but they should not define us.
“Fight” and “Iodine”, as well as earlier track “Get Well” all touch on the subject of not staying complacent in our sin, but moving forward. Lyrics like “I don’t know how I got here, but I refuse to stay,” reiterate the fact that we want to get better, but our human nature has other plans. Ariel sings, “These conditions only cure when we prepare ourselves for war,” reminding us there’s a battle going on inside us and our sin won’t be destroyed without a fight. The lyrics “depression’s like a big fur coat, it’s made of dead things, but it keeps me warm,” are a perfect picture of the constant battle going on inside each one of us.
Final song on the album, “Pieces,” once again tells listeners that we have to do something about the struggles in our lives. Yes, God is big and can do great things through us, but we have a part to play as well. “The pieces won’t pick-up themselves ya know.”
Since Icon For Hire’s first single “Make A Move,” hit radio stations, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what else this trio has up their sleeves. I am happy to say Scripted does not disappoint. Not only does it have an explosive sound, but the lyrics are equally impactful, calling listeners to stop living lives of complacency. And this band doesn’t just sing about taking action, they encourage fans to join them in working with various social causes. I have to admit I’m not usually a big fan of girl fronted rock bands, but Ariel’s vocals are unique, passionate, and perfect for this record. Paramore fans will love this band and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them in the live setting. It appears Icon For Hire has the whole package and I can’t wait to see what the future brings… possibly a “New Artist of the Year” nomination? I think so.