Sicbay ‎– Suspicious Icons

3 out of 5

Label: 54′ 40 or Fight!

Produced by: Bruce Templeton

Sicbay’s Suspicious Icons smartly ditches some of the wishy-washy genre stepping of Overreaction Time to go deeper in to straight-up pop and rock hooks; the disc zips through its 11 tracks, again hitting peaks when Nic Sakes and crew are leaning in to more aggressive tendencies – the pummeling, opening title track; Riposte in Pieces – but by buttoning up their excesses, it also allows another influence or style to come to the fore: Guided By Voices.  And I’m better keener ears could’ve picked up on that sooner, but it’s not until Sakes starts to relax his shouty vocals on The Rise of Phantom White that it really clicks.  Bruce Templeton’s clean, up-front production isn’t GBV’s preference for lo-fi, of course, and Sicbay doesn’t quite wring out the endless stream of variations of hooks that Pollard’s band has done over decades; Suspicious Icons rather too quickly falls into a very predictable flow.  Song by song, it’s more engaging and consistently enjoyable than the preceding album, but there’s still some extra factor that’s lacking – though the group was getting closer to discovering it here – that prevents Suspicious Icons from landing on something that makes it an album that draws you back in for repeat listens.