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Album Review: iDKHOW – Razzmatazz

The long-awaited debut iDKHOW album is finally here, but does it live up to the hype and expectation?

It feels like forever ago since I Don’t Know How But They Found Me first shimmied onto the scene in all their sparkly, retro-futuristic alt.pop glory. In fact, it’s been four years since Dallon Weekes started to swap his supporting cast duties in Panic! At The Disco for the spotlight of this starring role. But now, with the help of co-conspirator Ryan Seaman on drums and backing vocals, iDKHOW’s debut full-length has finally arrived and it’s every bit as flamboyant as an album that bears the name Razzmatazz should be. The heirs to Slayers crown this pair most definitely are not.

Rather, iDKHOW come from a long lineage of musicians who see the world of rock as a playground of joy and endless creative colour, determined to mould fresh sonic shapes out of the tried and tested raw materials of drums, guitars, synthesisers and… the occasional burst of saxophone. The songs might hark back to the comparatively simpler times, aesthetic and tropes of the 1980s, but who couldn’t use a little of that familiar warmth in their lives during the ultra-gloom of the present day?

If you’ve been following the teaser campaign that’s thus far included taster singles Leave Me Alone, New Intervention and the title-track, you’ll know that owing much as they do to the past, iDKHOW are far from stuck there. Sure, theirs is a world of arcade game sounds, robotic voices, late-night infomercials and orchestra-hit samples, backed by a musical mash-up that bows down to legends like Bowie, The Beatles and a swathe of new wave acts. But just like their kindred spirits in The 1975 and twenty one pilots, there’s enough of the here and now to keep things feeling fresh and forward-facing. It’s a little like the musical equivalent of The Duffer Brothers showing their love of John Hughes and Steven Spielberg movies through Strangers Things – with these songs boasting similar nostalgic charms and romance, fuelled by an underlying sense of hope and determination, even when all feels lost. 

Across all 14 tracks on offer, the record whizzes by with impressively realised pacing; not a moment is wasted, although the mood peaks and drops as required. There’s a ton of invention and neat tricks to be discovered in the detail, with an obvious obsessional passion that’s gone into everything, alongside the undeniable force of Dallon Weekes’ personality, shining up front and centre at all times. If you want a dance party, Sugar Pills and Lights Go Down have got you covered. He does wistful and contemplative too, with Kiss Goodnight and old favourite Nobody Likes The Opening Band. Perhaps you fancy some cinematic robo-jazz? Perhaps you don’t realise you do. Get on The Gallows to find out. However jaunty the musical hat iDKHOW try on is, they tend to rock it with style and ease throughout.

It may have arrived to the party fashionably late, but Razzmatazz comes at just the right time and it was well worth the wait. iDKHOW might not be changing the game exactly, but they’re packing the kind of addictive, dopamine-like qualities that’ll make you want to keep pumping coins into the slot for another hit, time and time again.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: The 1975, The Killers, Panic! At The Disco 

Razzmatazz is out on October 23 via Fearless and is available to pre-order/pre-save now.

READ THIS: 36 reasons to still be cheerful in 2020

Posted on October 22nd 2020, 2:34p.m.
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