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For Screening Purposes Only

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Album Review

With most of the hot U.K. bands of the mid-2000s borrowing from new wave, post-punk, and '90s Britpop, Test Icicles deserve some credit for having a slightly different set of influences, even if the band isn't radically inventive in its own right, either. On its debut album, For Screening Purposes Only, the trio crafts a chaotic sound that is heavily inspired by American and Canadian noise rock bands like the Mae Shi, the Blood Brothers, and Death from Above 1979, as well as heavy metal (which shouldn't come as a surprise, considering their Beavis and Butthead-ready name and song titles like "Party on Dudes"). Test Icicles can shriek and shred with the best of them, particularly on the album's opening track, "Your Biggest Mistake." However, by the second song, "Pull the Lever," the band can't resist throwing a poppy hook and vocal harmonies into the mathy, nimble noise, and by "Boa vs Python" and "Circle.Square.Triangle.," they sound like Bloc Party's brooding dance-punk with more piss and vinegar and less angst (in some of their press photos, Test Icicles even look like a bizarro version of that band). Most of For Screening Purposes Only falls somewhere between manicured noise rock and cleaned-up death-disco, but the band finds time to explore other sounds too: "Catch It!" flirts with screamo without fully committing to it, U.S. bonus track "What's Michelle Like?" is heavy and ugly, with thudding drum machines anchoring the chaos, and "Dancing on Pegs"' squeaky vocals and quick tempo shifts border on camp. Test Icicles try to do so much with their music that it could blow up in their faces at any moment; that they manage to pull off most of For Screening Purposes Only without embarrassing themselves (or annoying their audience) too much is a pleasant surprise — if you can call anything associated with music this willful and spazzy pleasant. Caught somewhere between challenging and accessible, For Screening Purposes is worth checking out for those who like their music prickly but with an undercurrent of pop to it, too.


Formed: 2004

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

With a goofy name and a sound that spans noise, metal, dance-punk, and pop, London's Test Icicles formed in 2004 out of a group of friends who made up spur-of-the-moment bands and played impromptu gigs. Before arriving in London, Florida-born Sam Merrann moved to Australia at age seven and played in metal and punk bands; Smashing Pumpkins and Slipknot fan Devonte Hynes was born in Texas and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, as a child; and native Briton Rory Aggwelt moved to London to attend art school....
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For Screening Purposes Only, Test Icicles
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