Review by Shannon Shumaker
Icon For Hire’s You Can’t Kill Us is easily one of the most vulnerable and emotionally powerful releases of 2016. Spearheaded by strong vocal work, intense instrumentals and incredibly transparent lyrical content, You Can’t Kill Us explores struggles in mental health and the amount bravery and strength that it takes to overcome life’s obstacles. Although at times, You Can’t Kill Us may feel very dark and hopeless, there’s an underlying sense of power and time and time again, Ariel Bloomer and Shawn Jump remind us that we’re all stronger than we think we are.
Kicking things off is the huge opening track, “Supposed To Be,” which touches on taking back control and finding yourself. “Supposed To Be” quickly and confidently sets the tone for You Can’t Kill Us, and from there, listeners better strap in, because they’re in for one hell of a ride. The next song, “Demons” urges listeners to fight to get better. It’s a battle cry, a plea for those who are struggling to hold on just a little longer, to fight back their demons. Lines like “Pain didn’t change me/I changed my pain,” and “You didn’t come this far just to get this far,” are delivered with wild, impressive vocal runs that make you want to get up and dance. Somehow, Icon For Hire manage to combine emotionally powerful content with catchy melodies that will have you singing along in no time.
The third song, “Get Well II” is on the darker side, touching on the unhealthy habits that one can tend to fall into, specifically wanting to get better but being too stuck in your old ways and too scared to change anything. These same struggles come to a head a few songs later in the heartbreaking “Happy Hurts.” Where songs like “Supposed To Be” and “Demons” are wild and upbeat, “Happy Hurts” takes on a slower hip-hop vibe, Ariel’s vocals a little softer and more vulnerable. Then, “Here We Are” follows the theme of “Happy Hurts” directly, posing the question, “Why are we still sad? Why are we still sick?”
As you listen to You Can’t Kill Us, it’s hard not to feel like you understand the struggles that are touched on in these songs - or maybe, they understand you. Lyrically, each and every song is incredibly vulnerable and transparent, but without trying too hard to be universally relatable. The fact of the matter is, the issues addressed on this album are struggles that countless people face every day. It’s real, and that’s what makes it such a great listen.
One of the strongest tracks on the album is the slower “War,” which is about fighting hard for someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. Like much of You Can’t Kill Us, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Emotionally, the only song that can top it is the incredibly personal, “Under The Knife.” There are no metaphors or flowing imagery to mask what this track is about. Instead, it’s rather blunt and honest as Ariel sings, “This is the song I’m too scared to write/But some of you might need it tonight,” before diving into the depths of self-harm.
Bringing You Can’t Kill Us to the strongest close possible is the album’s title track, which feels like a battle cry, an anthem for anyone who has ever felt broken or fucked up to remind them that they’re still here. Even if Icon For Hire’s sound normally wouldn’t be your cup of tea, I strongly urge listening to this album. Not only do they bear all on this release, but you’re bound to find yourself in at least one of these thirteen vulnerable songs.
Listen to "Under The Knife" or "Demons"