When a band takes a name like Ike Reilly Assassination, you would expect the name of Ike Reilly to be bolded in history books, in legacy of a revolutionary who was cut short. A simple Google search informed me that Ike Reilly is actually the front man of the band. What a letdown.
IRA's sound couldn't be easier to describe. Rehashed Dylan (both Bob and Jakob) vocals and pop brilliance are the only pertinent ingredients in this conglomeration. Apparently, this bothers few critics, since Ike Reilly is often hailed as being the next Dylan. Don't get me wrong, Reilly writes a damn catchy song. Melodiously, there isn't a weak point to this album. In all honesty, the only thing that's keeping the band from mainstream success is the band itself. With a few exceptions, the instrumentation is highly predictable: pop-folk. Other than an opening drum fill, I swear on all that is holy (cross my heart, hope to die…) that "Everything is Alright" has the same opening as The Wallflowers' "6th Avenue Heartache".
With the above being said, there are a number of pop nuggets on this album. The opener, "22 Hours of Darkness", is a classic tale of angst and not being understood. Ike should be commended for the line "No one's ever gonna pay to hear what goes on in your mind". "God and Money", "Edge of the Universe Café", "Heroin", and "What a Day" are all standout tracks that bridge the opening and closing pieces. Speaking of the closer, "Everything is Alright" is actually one of the strongest tracks on the album. The lyrics are top-notch, the chorus melody induces swaying, and the breakdown in the bridge is the musical highlight of the album.
Is Ike Reilly a great songwriter? Hell yes. Is he doing anything revolutionary? Not really. With the emergence of the "New Weird America", folk music is becoming more prominent in Indie circles. If you really want to hear the next Dylan(s), check out Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, and Sufjan Stevens. If you aren't ready for something so progressive, lend Mason Jennings an ear. I hope Ike Reilly realizes his potential and branches away from his roots by the time he ventures back to the studio.