Triple j says, “think old-school Kanye, The Avalanches and Mark Ronson rolled into one.” I haven’t a clue what triple j is, and couldn’t give a toss about anything by the artists mentioned (I’m being kind here, especially when it comes to Mark Ronson), but I’m not going to let this colour my view of 24-year-old, Melbourne artist Alice Ivy.
What may colour my view is a bunch of jazz loops, lazy samples that belong to the late 80s, chilled-out vibes and baggy beats, and an endless roll-call of guest rappers. It’s as if mainstream music hasn’t evolved a fraction in the best part of 20 years.
There’s more to it than that, though. Rippling loops and pulsating rhythms offer heavy echoes of late 90s chart dance music with an added ambient edge. Soulful disco grooves abound, and the production balances depth and slickness with aplomb. It fulfils its objective, and one the one hand, I feel it’s wrong to criticise it for that.
But it all feels so calculated. The soul is stylistic, rather than heartfelt. Every track feels like it’s been slickened and honed to within a millimetre, every ripple of reverb analysed and manipulated to perfection. Lyrically… it’s likely relatable to the chart-pop demographic (15-25… maybe?) but the content is decidedly lacking in depth on any level.
Endless overlays about stuff like ‘You tied to call me… but I’m working’ just leave a sense of contemporary emptiness. It may be the world we now live in, but art should either reflect it in sharp relief or take a place far above the mundane.
‘I’m Dreaming’ is like a dull, waking dream, where you realise you’re still at your desk, nothing has happened and no-one has moved, and you still hate your job, your colleagues, and want to hang yourself. It’s less sonic wallpaper, and more music you kill yourself to as you reflect on the way culture has been frozen in time and has spent the last 20 years reducing to the lowest common denominator regurgitations of history.
I’m left feeling hollow, empty, vacant. I wish I was dreaming, but no, this characterless nothingness is reality.