2008 saw the self-titled release from Innerpartysystem, an industrial, electronic infused rock/pop group from Pennsylvania. The genre sounds like a real mouthful, but I really can’t think of a more concise way of fairly expressing what they represent. If they were to be compared to anyone, they’d be somewhere along the lines of Nine Inch Nails, with their heavy synth and percussive nature, with stylistic hints at Rob Swire of Pendulum’s vocal technique. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that is a particularly accurate representation of their vibe though.
Their style becomes apparent very quickly as the introductory track, ‘Die Tonight Live Forever’ thrusts a pulsing synth groove straight into the mix with a tornado of layered parts and such heavy percussion that this track would be at home in any club venue. During the main hook, the insanely melodic vocals have chance to shine through as the beat is lowered. The lyrical content is pretty deep at this point too, with ‘If we all should die tonight, we will have no regrets’ and ‘If this night should take my life’, which are just morbid enough to sound utterly brilliant throughout the track.
Track 2- ‘Last Night in Brooklyn’ gets an honourable mention on this album as one of my own personal highlights. I’ve always been a fan of melodic trance music and the humongous synth pads at the start penetrate my ears with warmth and have the most fantastic atmospheric qualities before being replaced by the band’s signature sound of heavy synth leads and fierce percussion.
Their most famous track, and first single from the album, ‘Don’t Stop’ is a pulse pounding addition to the album, with a social commentary about celebrity idolisation as its main theme. The opening lyrics, “The road I walk is paved with gold to glorify my platinum soul” suggest how the public view their celebrity idols. Later in the track it reiterates the public view of celebrity in the line “I am the closest thing to God, so worship me and never stop”. The contempt of modern culture and dislike of hero worship continues with their pre-chorus lines: “The wretched blood runs through my veins. I gave up everything for fame. I am the lie that you adore. I feed the rich and fuck the poor”. Normally, I don’t agree that an album’s main single is their best track, but on this album, I think it probably is. The electronic synth wizardry alone is enough to warrant this as a great track, but with the lyrical content, this song is a complete package, which under many circumstances, would be enough to propel a band on to bigger and brighter things.
Towards the end of the album, it does seem to taper off a little bit, with a couple of tracks that seem to be there for the sole purpose of filling up space, and don’t get me started on ‘Home’, the bonus track. It isn’t a song at all; it is a kind of synthesised digital soundscape, elecroacoustically delivered. It’s a decent showcase of sound effects, but to be featured on what is otherwise a melody driven album of songs just seems a bit silly to me.
Upon revisiting this album, I feel that I’ve unearthed a genre that deserved so much more. It was as though it was ignored because of what people thought it might be like – dated sounding electronica bands like Prodigy, or maybe even that it sounded too much like Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. It disappeared into obscurity as quickly as it appeared at a time when the market had an Innerpartysystem sized gap. It’s a crying shame, because overall, this is a great offering from the Pennsylvania based quartet.
Would it hold up in today’s market? Honestly, probably not. The industrial-come-electro-pop genre seems to have passed us by. After the EDM market took a hold of the masses, most electronic bands were tilted towards the polished, clear sound, rather than the rugged, thumping tones of Innerpartysystem. The guitar led market has also moved away from the use of electronic synths, and is much heavier these days. I just don’t think there’d be room for a modern day Pendulum, or a melodic version of Prodigy. Having said that, maybe the only thing this band needs is a second chance to latch on to mainstream success.