Friday, 26 December 2014

100 LPs Shortlist #44: Icecream Hands - "Sweeter Than The Radio"

An awesome name for a band: one that could induce a sugar craving.

And an apt title for an album, if ever there was one. Here is a bunch of songs so sweet and so well written that they seem almost too good to share the airwaves with most of the crap that commercial radio deems fit for broadcast...

..however, I digress.

"Sweeter than the Radio" is an album that is probably the finest work in the relatively thin canon of works by Chuck Jenkins and his band the Icecream Hands. On this album, the songs were the smartest, most clever and eloquently written pieces, up until that point, of the band's career. Deep and complex lyrics married to gorgeous melodies and arrangements that float delicately around the room whenever this album is playing.

Only a band like Icecream Hands could write a song about a girlfriend having an accidental wardrobe malfunction and make it sound like a lost pop classic ("Nipple"). "Dodgy" was the hit single that never was, a complex lyric set against a charging arrangement. Only Chuck, a former record store clerk, could write a break up song framed around the splitting up of a record collection.

"Sweeter Than The Radio" is an album that aches at its core but cushions the pain in uplifting music. It is music that will meet the listener where they are at and takes them to a better place, almost sympathising with them. This music really is sweeter than most radio fodder because it has a beating heart at the centre of it. It is real music, human music, where so much other stuff around is vacuous and shallow.

This was the album that should have broken the band nationally and should have sold double platinum. It earned the band two ARIA nominations but the band carried away no awards. This album was followed up by Broken UFO in 2002 and The Good China in 2007, both fine albums in their own right. However it is this one that stands tall as their finest, in my view.

Take a listen for yourself below.

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