In order to fully describe to you former The King Blue’s frontman Itch’s first solo album, ‘The Deep End’, allow me to pitch you a role play scenario.
It’s 2 am and you’re in a nightclub. A glassy eyed young man stumbles up to you. He’s wearing a snap-back with a sports team from a city he’s never been to, an obnoxiously patterned shirt with every single button done up. He lays one hand on your shoulder, leans right in. He shouts into your face, his breath offensively heavy with the scents of jaegerbombs and stale rolling tobacco. He’s screaming something about ‘the drop’ on the nondescript dubstep that’s hammering away at your sanity.
That is the kind of audience I can only assume Itch’s album is aimed at. The album is a melting pot of different influences, boasting dub/reggae, rock, punk, dubstep and dance elements among various others.
‘Like I’m Drugs’ comes across as the soundtrack to a bad energy drink commercial, with overuse of vocal effects, breaks for melodic female vocals in amongst overly aggressive electro and dubstep. Opening track ‘Life is Poetry’ switches between clean male vocals (with a touch of autotune) and a melodic chorus section to a rap-rock section and back again. Many of the songs seem a little on the overlong side, switching between dynamic phases too many times for them to be kept interesting.
‘Homeless Romantic’ is a cliche riddled mess. Flowing from a annoyingly upbeat R’n’B section into yet another melodic chorus and then a shoehorned in ‘rock’ section, complete with gang vocals, it is utter chart-fodder in the most insulting sense. The two songs where the album shows potential of redeeming itself are sabotaged before they even get a chance. ‘Not My Revolution‘s’ more somber and honest tone, with apparently autobiographical lyrics inter-cut with soulful female vocals is ruined by it’s increasingly angsty tone, and finale ‘Ricochet’s‘ promising fast-paced grime is marred by unnecessary dubstep segments.
‘The Deep End’ has several hang-ups that reoccur just too often. Most of the songs are far too densely layered, with some sounds just seeming unnecessarily tacked on. Vocals throughout have way too many effects used on them, auto-tune, reverb, you name it it’s on there. It’s almost as if the production team has aimed to use every ‘cool’ feature their software has to offer. Itch’s lyrics are often cringeworthy, overusing the same imagery (Rats are prevalent), and when he simply name drops more famous/talented musicians and riffs off their accomplishments it is incredibly grating.
To sum up, this is an album that shows the agony of it’s influences. It tries to do too much, and says nothing. Party boys and girls will likely lap this up as pre-drinking playlist gold to drunkenly sing and rhyme along to, but to the more discerning listener it is bereft of talent and originality.