Ill Ease - ‘The Exorcist’ (Too Pure)
12 Apr 2004
stand-alone, female nyc starlet with debut-lp; release - '04.
'If a job's worth doing,' as the old adage goes, 'do it yourself'. Or was it 'it's worth doing well?' Either way, both could apply to Ill Ease - essentially, the one-woman show of Elizabeth Sharp, the sole force behind everything to do with 'The Exorcist'.
Despite the DIY-recording ethic and stripped-back, gutsy garage sound (it is a New York record, after all), it's all incredibly accessible stuff. Ms. Ease has a way with simplistic, directly memorable melody, albeit quirky and admirably unpolished, that can't fail but leave a mark on the consciousness no matter whether she's singing songs about partying or a tirade rueing someone's very existence - something she does a good few times throughout a brisk half-hour of quality, primal rock and roll.
'Jersey O' Matic' fulfils its mission as opener perfectly; the most fitting introduction to the world of Ill Ease that could be asked for, coming together with the stomp of 'You Know You Make Me Wanna Hate You' and pop sensibilities of 'You Look Like Hell Tonight' (see - not one for the compliments, our Liz) to form a well-rounded picture of what Ill Ease is: in essence - a mad, very human concoction of, seemingly, anything that sounds as if it's got enough guts or peculiarity to be thrown down on a disc.
Oft, however, it's unfortunately just a little uninspired; 'The Skank', for example - a narrative on the perils of a New York house party - works as an invitation to Elizabeth's partner in revelry to 'leave your hang ups hung up at the door, you can throw up in the sink', such a basic, literal nature not really doing much of the material here justice. Especially when followed by the album's strongest track, guitars brilliantly hopping all over the place on 'Malfunction Junction', it's a disappointment. But when someone seems to be laying so much of their way of life, let alone their musical style and background, out on a plate for you, it's perhaps inevitable that some of it won't strike a chord.
Put it down to a clash of lifestyles rather than a conflict of aural tastes, as the overall sound of this record can for the most part hardly be faulted. Everything is brilliantly textured; vocals are doubled up and can recite streams of Sharp's consciousness with a deft, witty eye and soft, often near whisper of a tone. It's prone to keyboard interjections, full-on, straight-up riff-action and outbursts of uncontrolled noise at arbitrary interludes, but maintains a demand for the admiration of the listener - you soon forget that it's just the one person behind it all, and remembering this can only bring with it further admiration.
'The Exorcist' is never going to be everything you want. But it's difficult to think of anyone else making music so endearing with its simplicity and profoundly personal nature. Ill Ease has her place, but damned are we if we attempt to tell her where that is - we'd probably end up the subject of a rather scathing future tune if we're not careful. Instead, we can but eagerly wait to see where she ends up next.