Listening to Weeping Icon’s debut album is to enter a dim catacomb of psychical catharsis. A critical commentary on the unique pressures and power dynamics experienced by the social media generation, the self-titled LP digs sharply into the destructive, repetitive nature of the neoteric tasks idled through daily by the ambitious urban millennial. Uniquely contemporary and keenly perceptive, the ubiquity on this album is natural territory for drummer Lani Combier-Kapel and guitarist Sara Fantry, native New Yorkers who grew up playing in bands together at the center of the booming Brooklyn arts scene. Determined to vent the energy left stirring in the inert confines of lazy, decades-old band tropes, Weeping Icon is the almanac to the complex contrarian language they developed as innovational collaborators during a decade of major socio-political uprooting. Alongside the classically trained, sludge/doom seasoned bassist Sarah Reinold and the scientifically explorative noise musician (and daughter of a scientist) Sarah Lutkenhaus, they devised a dream project in which they could freely encourage equal collaboration, pursuit of challenge, and a dedication to dismantling the cliches they encountered as disenfranchised females in a male dominated arena.
The results are an expansive whirlwind of compelling sonics. Urgent yet calculated riffs rip through a thunderous pummel of percussion, Combier-Kapel's anomalous blend of punk and psychedelic drumming carrying their songs with an atmosphere of organized chaos. Typical song structure is a rubric to draw from and ultimately deconstruct, as we experience through the whipping tempo changes and sudden tactile shifts that unseat us throughout the album. Switching off vocalists, they give us a panoramic view into the plagued world of the millennial female, with lyrics that reveal intense contemplation, telling harsh truths through dark and poignant sarcasm. Confronting a generation undergoing perplexing, exponentiated change, Weeping Icon doses their listeners with such a controlled sense of horror and humor that they test our very comprehension of the world we participate in.
Take, for example, the track “Natural Selection,” spoken from the umbral voice of a powerful individual, addressing a confidant who is on the path to wielding a comparable amount of social power. The man advises his crony that the way to get ahead is to stay silent, on any matters that feel uncomfortable or could complicate or ensnare his rise to affluence. He assures him that it is not his ethical imperative to support the weak, but follows up by offering his support should any issues arise, without irony and to the effect of ominous alarm. The track “Like Envy” critiques the mutation of social media into a place where everyone can become their own brand, and the unsustainable model of one’s livelihood being staked on constantly staying relevant to a public whose attention is being fought over by, potentially, everyone on social media. Its story is told through the voice of an instagram influencer who unravels before us, suddenly aware that it’s possible no one enjoys having to present as secure all of the time. The songs on this album deliver a brutal defiance of the modern status quo that to so many of us has felt stale in the genre for too long.
Beyond crucial lyrical matter and gripping punk songs, Weeping Icon’s tenacious performance experience is augmented by sets woven together by textured sound interludes and the use of an assortment of unconventional objects outfitted as instrumentation. In keeping with their live performance, a sequence of dystopian sound interludes complete the album, serving as guided meditations between the candid subversive fury of the main tracks.