Review Summary: Iron Chic returns with a third installment of their soul crushingly honest brand of punk rock, and it’s another homerun.
“It’s hard to be a human being”
Those are the first lines of the second song off Iron Chic’s latest offering, 'You Can’t Stay Here'. I would have to agree with them. Humans have to deal with grief, regret, uncertainty, tragedy, physical pain and then finally, death. They ask themselves tough, probing questions. ‘Am I living with meaningful intent or am I drifting aimlessly in a perpetual sleepwalk" Am I reaching even a fraction of my potential, or am I playing everything too safe, letting fear get the upper hand"’ Yeah, it’s not always a picnic being human. Sometimes the meaning and finality of it all can be too much to even think about. So some people just…don’t. Iron Chic does though. And they’re not easy on themselves. No, they ask those hard questions, they're trying to get to the bottom of it. With their third album, Iron Chic is still searching for something, and they’re still making some of the best modern punk rock in the process.
'You Can’t Stay Here' is their first release on SideOneDummy and follows in a similar vein as previous records, 2010’s 'Not Like This' and 2013’s 'The Constant One'. This collection, however, is a slightly more solemn affair as themes of grief and depression are even more accentuated. Musically it does not differ drastically from their previous works; the songs are still melodic, hard-hitting and often filled with energy. But it is frontman Jason Lubrano’s words and passionate delivery that brings the songs to life and also what sets Iron Chic apart from a slew of other bands in the genre. The lyrics sound as though they were dredged up from the pit of the soul, penned with a brutal honesty and heavy dose of introspection. The songs exude genuine passion without any pretence; the words carry a heavy weight, sung or shouted as if they meant life or death. Even in the slower ones, where they take on an almost weary quality, none of the urgency or meaning is lost. The band’s founding guitarist Rob McAllister passed away in 2016, and although he left the band prior to his death the loss may have contributed to some of the record’s darker themes.
Iron Chic has never shied away from critical self-analysis; doubt, mortality, meaninglessness, disappointment and failure have been recurring motifs in their music for almost a decade now. But 'You Can’t Stay Here' can be uncompromisingly bleak and relentless at times even for them. But despite its melancholy nature, there’s a certain vitality and earnestness present that I believe triumphs over everything else in the end. It makes the crucial difference between listening to an Iron Chic album and feeling dejected, or listening to one and feeling more alive, because it’s always the latter. Life is pure ***ing chaos sometimes, and Iron Chic knows that as well as anybody, so they vent through music. Listening to the end result is cathartic and not unlike going to therapy in a way, except it’s much cheaper and way more fun.