Luke James
Luke James

CLUNK Magazines chief album review guy and a lover of cats!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Label: Kind Violence Records

‘Protagonists’ is the third album from Mancunian four-piece IST IST. Following on from their 2020 debut ‘Architecture’ and the 2021 follow up ‘The Art of Lying’, Ist Ist say that ‘Protagonists’ “feels like the first album where there’s no pressure”.

With a first album which was more of a back catalogue of their previous work before being signed and a second album recorded in lockdown restrictions, ‘Protagonists’ sees IST IST free of obstruction and able to create the work they want to.

This freedom is felt from the outset with the brooding viciousness of ‘Stamp You Out’, setting the tone with drums battered, bass tone set to fuzz and baritone vocals that would make even Tom Smith from Editors blush. As the track progresses it batters you further into submission until it comes to a sudden end and ‘Something Has to Give’ swings in to keep the doom party going.

The glorious 80’s indie of ‘Nothing More Nothing Less’ sees IST IST lean into their Joy Division influence with great aplomb. The sweetness of the synth and the constant drive of the song make for a beautiful moment on the album. The synth takes the lead on ‘Mary in the Black and White Room’ which is a gorgeous slice of heavenly 80’s indie pop.

It’s easy to make comparisons to bands such as Joy Division and Editors with the very distinctive vocal style and penchant for 80’s indie, but IST IST are carving out their own style of beautifully widescreen indie with hooks for days and a shimmer of a golden era of music.

Listen to ‘Protagonists’ here: