“I don’t ingratiate myself to you“: this one lyric, snarled multiple times with increasing abandon is one of the crescendos of LICE’s new single ‘Conveyor,’ is in a way a perfect summary of everything the Bristol band has done in the past, is currently doing, and quite clearly plans on doing in the future. Having taken a lengthy writing break to rethink their sound and content, this is the first new material they offer from what has all the trappings of concept-heavy writing, with a sound just as eccentric as we have learnt to expect from them and a bite that has become increasingly difficult to ignore.
LICE have had so far a pretty unusual history; starting out as alternative punk with a satirical edge, they embraced an increasing level of art-rock contamination, then proceeded to start developing a rather unique voice of their own, fueled in equal measure by their dissatisfaction with the constraints of the music industry and the boxes in which it constantly attempts to put its performers, by a healthy desire for unrestrained experimentation, and by that little bit of derangement that is a vital spark in punk and all its many descendants. They have not shied away from long, rambling tracks, non-linear structures, and all sorts of unexpected contamination. Now they are once again doing what they do best – introducing yet another unexpected element while remaining devoted by their peculiar sound aesthetic, cerebral in its own unique way under the chaotic high energy.
The band has announced a headline tour for March, during which more of their new material is likely to get an airing; it will be interesting to see if whatever else they have to offer continues in this vein, and if new pieces of the puzzle – and if so, of what nature – will be added with time. For now, we have this single, in which a disillusioned narrating voice denounces without restraint the iniquities of a dystopian scenario that might be a Mad Max-like Wasteland or also the state of the music industry today. The track doesn’t hide its drawing inspiration from industrial rock, with heavy, hammering guitars, battering drums, and deep, guttural distortion that would not be completely out of place in a Blade Runner kind of soundtrack. The vocals, however, are pure punk, more so, in fact, than the band has previously been, snapping and biting and delivering the cutting lyrics with a fully charged punch.
It is not a track for the faint of heart, nor one to be listened to with only half-attention, in a distracted moment. With ‘Conveyor,’ LICE are demanding attention, and they will be heard. If the sound of this single is not the most original or the most interesting they have produced so far, it is one of the most intense and heavy, with a hint of madness introduced in the instrumental bridges by a squealing of distorted guitar and a number of almost spoken-word moments that reinforce the feeling that this is, in many ways, a proclamation of intents. Without doubt, it is a very interesting game opener. Whatever follows it is likely to add to it more layers of meaning that are at present half-hidden among its noise. It is likely to be a very interesting ride.
LICE’s UK tour dates are, as follows:
10th March – Leeds, Hyde Park Book Club
11th March – Glasgow, Hug and Pint
12th March – Manchester, Castle Hotel
13th March – Newcastle, Cluny 2
14th March – Birmingham, Dead Wax
16th March – Southampton, Heartbreakers
17th March – Brighton, Green Door Store
18th March – London, Shacklewell Arms
19th March – Bristol, The Island