ICEHOUSE

        

First Album Review (October 15, 1980)
'Icehouse' LP a stunner for Flowers
By Mark Trevorrow, from The Sun, Wednesday, October 15, 1980


Anything but disappointment will greet the long-awaited Flowers' debut album, "Icehouse" (Regular). Lead singer and songwriter Iva Davies joked recently that the Sydney band had once been told they'd never make it with their chosen name. But with Davies' talent as a writer, the instrumental tightness of the four-piece group and with Cameron Allan at the producing helm, Flowers were destined to be big.

An arresting debut hit called "Can't Help Myself" - very cleverly released on 10-inch disc - sailed into the national Top Ten and established Flowers as a strong new force. And that dreaded "one-hit-wonder" tag has been firmly swept aside with the release of the follow-up single, "We Can Get Together", a song that will perhaps eventually show itself as a classic Australian record.

Certainly, "Icehouse" is a milestone. For once, the product more than lives up to the hype that so often precedes - and then destroys - the long-term success of local great white hopes. The packaging, too, with its luxurious gatefold cover, featuring superbly understated graphics, further enhances the total creative unity of "Icehouse".

On vinyl - where it all stands or falls - producer Cameron Allan, together with Iva Davies, has imparted an amazing, suspended quality all the way through. Davies' vocals add to the listening pleasure of this unusually fine first album... like the music and the instrumentation, he just never lets up. "Icehouse" opens with the haunting title track, with its deliberately menacing and slow synthesisers, leading straight into the pure techno-pop of "We Can Get Together". The next track is just as unexpectedly different... "Fatman", a compulsive straight rocker. "Sister", "Walls", and side two's "Skin" are popular numbers from Flowers' live set, and on record they lose none of their electricity. An interesting reworking of "Can't Help Myself", opens side two with a much busier and fuller sound than the original production.

It's not until "Sons" that sax is introduced, and that alone helps Geoff Oakes's solo to highlight "Icehouse"... the tinkling sound of a piano breaks through for the first time, too, on this, the closest thing to a ballad on the LP. Just when you think there couldn't be more good stuff, the three final tracks jump out to ambush the listener. "Boulevarde" has all the magic of the two singles taken from the album - will it be the Flowers' third chart hit?- as does "Not My Kind", the closing song. In between is "Nothing to Do", with its strong acoustic folksy feel that is both a refreshing change and a delight in itself.

The approach of Flowers to everything that bears their name - and now "Icehouse" - seems to sum up entirely the final arrival, after so many false starts, of Australian rock music as a major world force.