ALBUM REVIEW: Razzmatazz (iDKHOW)
ALBUM Razzmatazz // ARTIST iDKHOW
Oozing slick new-wave chops with glossy swagger, the debut album Razzmatazz from Salt Lake City duo iDKHOW (aka I Dont Know How But They Found Me) is an opulent neon Shangri-La to perfectly punctuate both the doldrums of 2020 as well as the iconic time-travelling flick the band borrow their namesake from.
Starting life shrouded in secrecy, I Dont Know How But They Found Me, aka iDKHOW, forged as a booming collaboration between long-time friends Dallon Weekes of Panic! at the Disco fame and Ryan Seaman who sharpened his chops as the longest tenured drummer for post-hardcore rockers Falling in Reverse. And while the project's inception can be traced as far back as 2009, it wasn't until 2016 that Weekes formally announced the existence of iDKHOW, following months of denial and intrigue; and what better place to officially debut your band to the world than at the legendary Reading and Leeds Festivals, joining the likes of Twenty One Pilots, The 1975, The Killers and Blink-182, before signing with Fearless Records and carving up over 100 million Spotify streams - and all before the pair had a full-length album under their dazzling belts. But the wait for a full-length LP is nearly over, with the effervescent Razzmatazz ready to ignite on Friday October 23 in a fanciful storm of luminous velvet.
Starting out with some glitchy glamour, Leave Me Alone kicks off Razzmatazz in swaggering fashion as Weekes cavorts his pipes over a backdrop of retro synths and splashy grooves that seamlessly sync up with the accompanying Kubrickian 70s sci-fi music vid the band dropped last month.
Up next, the steady glitz of Mad IQs opens the floodgates for fusion frivolity as alt-pop and stadium rock calmly collide, while Weekes flexes his glam with a fervour that would make Justin Hawkins proud. But just when you've settled in for a frothy synth-fest, Nobody Likes The Opening Band arrives bearing a charming retro pop rock piano ballad that strips all the trimmings and lets Weekes take flight with a theatrical-yet-controlled outing that further divulges both a staggering vocal range as well as the writing range careening below the surface in the iDKHOW kingdom.
As Razzmatazz flits between slick sci-fi swagger (New Invention, Sugarpills), charming mutant ballads (From The Gallows, Kiss Goodnight), radiant dancefloor jams (Lights Go Down) and blazing Brit rock anthems (Clusterhug), it is increasingly clear that neither Weekes or Seaman are hanging onto any shadows cast by their previous musical lives. The ghosts of influences past may rear their heads at times, but with each passing track utterly oozing with the flashy flair the album moniker stipulates, it's a fascinating journey as the duo explore every last inch of razzle and dazzle in a variety of genre settings that are equally cohesive and contrasted.
Understandably, given the pair's previous musical pedigree, Razzmatazz is a sharp, polished release, with razor-sharp production at every turn. But unlike some of the pair's accomplished peers, iDKHOW aren't satisfied to rest on their laurels, still finding moments of innovative surprise as the album begins to draw to a close with the absorbing Need You Here birthing lilting pianos and buzzing textures into an electrifying climax, before the hauntingly simplistic Door slashes the opulence for a moment, leading the way in fitting fashion for the gluttonous titular track laden with lush soundscapes, plush brass and silken vocals that softly ebb off into oblivion.
While iDKHOW's fictitious backstory as a band who have been trying to garner their big break for 30 years may not seem all that farfetched with the band's penchant for sonic throwbacks, the shifting modernity and scintillating songwriting betrays the fiction and posits the pairing of Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman as one in absolute control of their creative direction - and not afraid to have a little fun in the process. Answering the question of what it would sound like if Muse time-travelled back to the 1960s, Razzmatazz ultimately flexes a loving nod to the glitz and glamour of Ziggy Stardust and Sgt. Pepper, while splicing in a tangible modernity that is unsettling, engaging and addictive all at once. With something for fans of theatrical pop rock, retro pizzazz and subtle references to Back To The Future, iDKHOW have covered all their bases on this elegant sci-fi glitter bomb.
iDKHOW'S DEBUT ALBUM RAZZMATAZZ IS OFFICIALLY DUE OUT ON FRIDAY OCTOBER 23, WITH PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
BY TIANA SPETER