If Shirley Manson and The Cranberries were somehow able to bless us with a musical child, it would be Iris. Los Angeles natives, and Covina locals, Michelle Malley (Vocals/ Guitar), Alex Moreno (Lead guitar), Michael Maldonado (bass guitar) and Trevor Wallace (drums), fuse alternative and grunge without falling into the line of generic. Nectar (2014), being their third album, displays the band’s haunting and dreamy approach, while branching from alternative rock roots. The album combines slower-tempos, heavy guitar distortions, and a smoky vocal execution that ranges from a powerful punch to the face, to a sweet lull.
While only being an 8 track compliation, this is enough to properly display the story behind Nectar. A two minute introduction track begins the album, and opens up this haunting and dreamy sound. Following the ominous melodic tune, Stay away, a personal favorite, is an explosive ballad. Starting with a slow tempo, then a cleverly placed paused by 2:45, allows for a dramatization and angst, riding on the emotional driven vocal approach, that are pushed intently on this track by Malley.
As the album progresses, sweeter and sour flavors are added. Kissing the habit, would be that bitter sweet tune, primarily focused on two guitars, and the emotion told by the lyrics: “never thought it’d be like this.” This is a song that values the appreciation of each guitar, that holds great value to the song. Picking up the feeling of the album, Blame, is a confrontational track that explodes with confident vocals during the chorus. Explosive on all musical aspects, there is a rise and fall to this track, reflecting the steps of a “blame.”
Ghost slows down the rhythm of the album, but not in its approach. This is another great alternative rock song that follows the template of rising and falling. Besides the notable distorted guitar, the second guitar adds balance, allowing the song to not be so heavy, giving way to pay focus on the lyrics: “and when your ghost comes / I will be there / I can’t say goodbye.” Following the feeling of Ghost, the next track makes a smooth transition, and the definition of “haunting” would be the song, Sleep. Exasperated and an eerie guitar, backs up the hoarse and seductive voice that seems fitting to put the listener in a trance, along with subtle background vocals. The cracking in the voice, is controlled, tugging at the emotional strings, which adds so much beauty to the track.
Another personal favorite would be, Good stuff. This is an amplified definition of the essence of love, lust, desire, and all other “good stuff,” Iris style. Every member provides a piece that is distinctly heard and felt. Malley’s capability of singing with emotion is a notable feature throughout the album. Added to the intimate lyrics, her distinct way of holding notes, and at times scratching from within, holds more value to the words being said. “Does desire have a name? / do I want it to fade?” is the beginning of honesty. “It’s the good stuff you know, / it’s the thought of you here (with me) / it’s the good stuff you know, that drives me wild,” sums up the story in one line. Distorted guitars, deep bass, steady but punchy drums, are the final ingredients for a great standout track. Wrapping up Nectar, is Delicate. A beautiful, simple 3 minute song, once again primarily focused on a slow-tempo and saddened guitar, following distinguished harmonics due to the layering of the vocals- holding true to the nature of its title.
Nectar showcased an album that contained darker thoughts and emotions to properly display the sounds of Iris. All tracks individually could stand alone, but work well together as intended to be told by Iris through their music. In the end, the feeling of wanting more is exemplified, and these are talented musicians whom reminded me how wonderful grunge, if executed properly, could be.