Iska Dhaaf is a finely tuned machine. Even the Sun Will Burn may be the band’s first LP, but it's clear from the first simmering moments of “All the Kids” that the duo of Seattle music scene vets Nathan Quiroga (vocals, guitar, keys) and Benjamin Verdoes (drums, keys, vocals) has honed in on its own distinct rock style; one strewn with echoing guitar licks (both of the shredding and subtle variety) and crafty beats. After “All the Kids” introduction, the energy immediately transitions into a brooding buzz on “Everybody Knows.” Quiroga’s tremolo picking gives the song a teeth-gritting tension with a mild tinge of psychedelic rock, and the chorus ramps up to a frenzy that begs to be sung and clapped along to en masse. While the first two numbers blister out of the gate, Iska Dhaaf slows up and takes its foot off the pedal so nothing but the haunting murmur of the engine remains. In the more restrained sonic space, the duo (with the help of some friends) experiments with light guitar and vocal melody mirroring (“Two Ones”), heavy electronic organ bombinations (“Sullen Eyes”), and head swaying string arrangements (“Same Indifference”). It’s a diverse palate, but the core musicality remains consistent in tone.
Bravado permeates every corner of Even the Sun Will Burn’s musical sound, but a sense of longing prevails in the album’s lyrics. Quiroga’s confident delivery partially acts as a mask hiding the woeful nature of the words he sings. The songs tell of a lost soul, an incomplete half of a whole (“Two Souls”), looking for a distant comfort even if that means sacrificing one’s self (“Dependency”). Tracks like “Same Indifference” mix a palpable sense of fear and submission (“I'm afraid of becoming who I actually am. / Bleach my brain, clean my memory, drench my soul in alcohol.”). Even simple moments of beauty carry bear signs of darkness with lines like “It’s a moonless night. You keep crawling into my heart” (“Moonless Night”).
Iska Dhaaf took care to make sure its debut didn’t feel rushed. Even in its most melancholy moments, composure takes the forefront. As a result, Even the Sun Will Burn radiates an uncommon intelligence and hints at more razor sharp tunes to come.
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