This is a review of "s/t" recorded by I Love Poland. The review was written by Maria Pinto-Fernandes in 2006.
‘Not Ill’ begins an eagerly anticipated LP with a decisive drum beat introduction leading to the gloomy realism of lyrics ‘England is dead’. The tempo creeps up and momentum gathers as Ben directly addresses us ‘But you cannot claim to have integrity / No you cannot claim to know me’. However despairing vocals are soothed by the excellent consistency of the track’s rhythm; the song is ‘Not Ill’ indeed, more alive and kicking if anything as an affirmative drum beat brings track one to a close.
I Love Poland demonstrate that they are no exceptions to the artistic format of imperfection and flaws with the decidedly non-glam of ‘Glamour of the Dark’. There is a happier tone in comparison with the first song, but the optimism of the high backing synth almost drowns out the vocals completely. This bodes well though, as it would be rather drab if we were all perfect.
The delicate, light-hearted 90-second introduction of ‘Stereo Legs’ works wonderfully as an intermission after two relatively similar tracks. Perhaps the band meant this as the artistic indication that they ain’t no one-stop shop. The barely audible repetition of the title reinforces the fact that this is them.
Fourth track ‘Speaker!’ is probably my favourite as it is an example of the few cocky + brash + egotistical formulae that = brilliant; an alternative to the rest you could say. ‘Speaker! You need to come down! / Speaker! You know that I care! / Speaker! You know that I’m never there!’ accompanied by an eerie backing track and the tone of the vocals to hint that ‘something’s up’. A dark indie club anthem: the soundtrack to a messy confrontation.
Some atmospheric synth to introduce what could be interpreted as either an attempt to bring down the successful or an autobiographical of I Love Poland’s career thus far ‘The Incredible Success’. ‘Mr X was a failure so far / But he hadn’t had a chance yet / For he had just started’ a possible nod to the critics who rubbished the band’s first few shows. The trailing off of vocals at a point representing disorientation or apprehension towards success and the monster it can turn people into: ‘And it shot into his head’ ‘And he was dead’.
‘Kill Yourself’ more or less contains the message as in the title; the gunshot-like background beat implying that the up-tempo tone is merely a façade. Morbid lyrics abound ‘The brother’s always dying’; ‘She’s killed herself’; ‘Dying for you tonight’. The consistency of the beat throughout excuses the lyricism here as it is the silver lining of a very grey cloud. ‘Do you ever want to cry? / So why do you tell me you don’t want to?’ referring to the conservative nature of we British who withhold our emotions only to regret some time later. The eerie child-like ‘ping’ of a triangle as the last beat is genius.
Final song ‘Candy’ shows that the band can do other directions magnificently. A call to arms in the first few beats and fat, layered synths give way to a jolly high-pitched synth... is this an ode to a lady friend? Erm yes. ‘Candycane I love you / You take me through the night’; ‘ You are the one that I care for / You are the one that I rely on’. Such song writing is brought alive as both high-pitched synths fuse together wonderfully to create a sense of romance as the last few notes of the ‘ILP’ fade out and people prepare to declare their undying love to the one they rely on.