BY APRIL S. ENGRAM
Laden in moody ‘80s-synth and harnessing a Cure meets Depeche Mode and marries Siouxsie vibe, IO Echo (singer Ioanna Gika and multi-instrumentalist Leopold Ross) goes atmospherically big for their long awaited debut full length. A sonic (and visual) reinvention from EPs past, IO Echo has washed away the grungy Goth sound that was their staple, yet a heavy layer of menacing and melancholy remains on Ministry of Love. “Shanghai Girls” opens the album on a grand note as crashing cymbals and Gika’s reverbed vocals soar high and sets the lush tone of the album.
Ministry is glazed over in reverbed, hazy guitar, loopy effects, keyboards and vocals on each song; since IO Echo does not stray from this formula only a couple of tracks are forgettable as they meld into one. However, the standout songs outweigh these moments as the upbeat “Ministry of Love”, “Shanghai Girls,” “Ecstasy Ghost” and “When the Lillies Die” induces some serious head bopping as their infectious beats cannot be ignored. Even the methodically slow paced “Stalemate” with its haunting, echoed guitar and quiet drumming entrances listeners.
IO Echo even reincarnated an older song of theirs, 2008s “Addicted;” a great remake of an already addicting song(terrible pun horrifically intended), the droning keyboards and Gika’s barely audible background vocals and whispers gives it a composed eerie atmosphere. Ministry of Love may wax gloomy but proves to be an enjoyable album that fans of IO Echo just may happily play repeatedly.
DOWNLOAD: “Ministry of Love,” “Ecstasy Ghost”