This is Melbourne, Australia based rock n roller Ivan Beecroft.
Coming from a blue collar, working class backround, Beecroft channels his ‘everyday bloke dealing with everyday problems’ attitude throughout his latest release, “Whatever“.
11 tracks that shoot for a straight ahead, mostly guitar fueled rock approach (with liberal chang-ups with piano/keys about half-way through the album). Subtle punk and indie influences are easy to feel, but they come packed into a more controlled melody. Simplistic in its movements, but done for the effect of clarity… to avoid muddying the waters with pretentious posturing. One has the sense of purity, at least in its intent. The vibe is familiar… you’ve most likely heard shades of these rock sounds before in other bands. Progressions through songs are working with blueprints that have been laid out clearly by other bands. But its a roadmap that touches upon a wide catch of 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s inspirations.
Beecroft’s vocals have a beefy monotone… think Gary Numan if he traded his synth for a guitar. But what they might lack in dynamic is made up for in his ability to relay the lyrics in a tense, easy to digest manner. Much of Ian Beecroft’s music seems to be constructed with ideas that are content to find their mood, and then stick there for that song.
While it’s a relatively safe approach, it sometimes leaves the impression that with a bit more reckless nature… some unrestrained agony… a little blood on the fire… the end result would be the incendiary spark that could push his music over the edge and truly separate itself from its roots.
For the moment, “Whatever” delivers some like-able rock. Opening riff, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo and out… the formula is familiar. But it’s familiar because it works.
It should be noted that this album is the singular vision of Ian Beecroft. All instruments, vocals, recording, and mixing are handled by the lone musician. A feat worthy of praise in itself considering the professional sound that is captured throughout.
The first chunk of the album is straight up rockers. The middle tends to show off some different directions with more keyboards and songs with a ‘deeper’ feel (like the almost ballad of, ‘Broken Wing‘ or the Pink Floyd-ish acoustic flow of ‘Ordinary Man‘ ). The album gets moodier and more solemn as it wraps up.
It’s almost like ‘the party’, ‘the hangover’, and the introspective, ‘regret’ of a crazy all-nighter. One of those experiences that has highs, lows, and somewhere mixed in the haze… a learning experience. “Whatever” is Ian Beecroft’s learning experience, reflecting his angst, complaints, and observations of his life of struggle.
Lyrically, Beecroft seems to often be stuck in rigid rhyme schemes, that make some of the lyrics seem a bit forced to fit into the hole. Which is a shame because one gets the sense that much of what Ian is singing about, is very personal and comes from direct experience (witness the confrontational “Say It To My Face“).
Wading into the album from the start, ‘Sleepwalker‘ cracks it open with a guitar vibe similar to The Cult’s “Fire Woman” before dropping down into a more riff-centric Cheap Trick type rocker. Complete with harmonizing vocals (also done by Beecroft) and polished up with some competent classic rock type guitar solos.
‘You Can’t Take My Soul‘ is moody rocker that holds down the more raucous front end of this album and comes with a (stock footage) filled video.
‘Got A Reputation‘ has some 3 chord power chops and a call and return rhyme scheme (a bit like the classic, “Summertime Blues”) that falls into itself smoothly. One of the standout tracks on this release.
‘She Said‘ marks the point in the album where Beecroft switches from guitar to piano as his main tool of musical composure. The track hits with an almost Beatle-esque bounce, constructed with a hook-filled melody.
‘How Do You Sleep At Night‘ is one of the most ambitious songs on this album. A bouncing piano beat backed with some soaring keys sonically define the number while Beecroft’s vocals take on a dramatic depth that would make a comparison to Mike Patton (Faith No More) accurate.
“Whatever” is a passionate, solo effort that showcases an artist with many ideas, and even more influences, all struggling for a place on the shelf. Beecroft rarely strays too far from the eclectic and extensive library of inspirations ranging from way old school Elvis, Buddy Holly and even some Neil Diamond through the grungy pop rocks he obviously grew up with like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins with nods to dramatic vocalists like Bowie and Morrison… he does well to wrap this all up and push it through some kind of Aussie rock filter. This album will not redefine rock for the listener, nor is it meant to… as much as the intention seems to be to offer something that rocks, but stands apart from fake metal posturing. Melody and lyrical intent are layered into every track, making this release a solid companion to the influences clearly present.
The fact this all comes from a singular solo artist from inception, to execution, to capturing… makes the effect all the more appreciated.