Release date 9th of November 2017
Reviews: By Sue Davidson
Sleepwalker starts the album with a classic AC/DC type intro to put the stamp of Australian rock all over it, the snare crack that follows drives the song steadily into the verse. The lyrical element of the song is unmistakably cynical and deliberately deadpan in its delivery which lights the fuse to the unapologetic subject matter. The lyrics are a response to all the obvious skulduggery that the mainstream media has indulged in over a long period of time. The first verse audaciously sends a very clear message to the powers that be that the silent majority have had a gutfull of their nonsense and have grown tired of their same old obvious lies. The pre-chorus caps this off with the phrase “you won’t deceive me I don’t believe you this doesn’t work anymore”. The chorus has that classic rock anthem structure to it and directly challenges the listener to wake up and stop blindly allowing the governments collaborating with large media corporations, intelligence agencies and the industrial military complex to incrementally enslave every one of us in the name of protecting us from terrorism. The second verse goes as far as mocking the mainstream press for not even bothering to try to make sense anymore.
No one could ever accuse Ivan of not having the courage to stand up to the government and corporate bullies that have been instrumental in creating the Orwellian nightmare that we are constantly being forced to endure. This track will most likely never see the light of day due to the amount of censorship that social media sites now indulge in. Their disgusting use of algorithms to bury any dissenting voices on social media is reprehensible and becoming more obvious by the day, pity as this song in any previous era of free speech would’ve been held up as a musical masterpiece just in it’s relevant lyrical content alone.
2. SAY IT TO MY FACE
Say It To My Face takes aim at the corporate interference in politics by the use of radio talk show hosts to spread political propaganda that benefits major corporations. The sound bite at the start unashamedly depicts the talk show host as an ignorant muppet who gets paid whether they know or care about anything that they present on their shows. The music itself has a familiar ring to it; you can hear many influences including Nirvana, Husker Du and Pearl Jam. The lyrics unapologetically target a certain demographic that have become so out touch with reality and have become so indifferent and arrogant in their treatment towards the majority of the working class that they assume that most people don’t mind being equated with cattle. The chorus takes an angry and defiant stand against certain cowardly unconscionable journalists and social media commentators that feel it is their right to anonymously vilify and destroy peoples lives and reputations. The second verse continues with the same type of venom and takes aim specifically at the music industry and its disgusting treatment and exploitation of artists. For a track that has very minimal lyric content it manages to cover an extraordinary amount of social and political ills.
3. YOU CAN’T TAKE MY SOUL
The track “You Can’t Take My Soul” was Inspired by the movie Shawshank Redemption’s character Andy Dufresne. The chorus in particular is a reference to the scene in the film where Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) defies Warden Sam Norton (Bob Gunton) by playing the duettino over the prison’s loudspeakers. Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) remarks in his voice-over narration: “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. […] I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it.” The scene highlights the deep satisfaction gained by the prisoners from something that spoke to their essential humanity, in spite of the prison regime they were living under. You Can’t Take My Soul reflects that affirmation of humanity under even the most soulless living conditions.
The first line of the song expresses distaste for the modern scourge of political correctness and questions the notion of blindly trusting institutions such as governments, corporate media organisations and the industrial military complex that President Eisenhower warned the world about directly after WW2.
The second line is a cynical dig at the individuals and corporations involved in successfully lobbying governments into making decisions that have systematically destroyed the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people by offshoring all their work. This in turn has caused the unprecedented amount of inequality that we see in the world today. The last part of the line defiantly sends a message that they can own everything but “you can’t own the inside of me”.
The first line in the second verse takes aim at the rise of the mindless insipid reality TV shows that have been rammed down people’s throats and are passed off as a meaningful form of entertainment. The ones that are particularly offensive are the music reality shows, as they have had a detrimental effect on the craft of songwriting in general by focusing on vocal acrobatics and ignoring all other elements that contribute to a creative work. Also under fire is the mainstream media’s practice of creating a false reality to be presented to the public based on falsehoods and deliberate misinformation. This song shows an insight, and an absolute respect to its audience, that are not found in modern mainstream music.
The sound of the track itself starts with an air of mystery, the different musical influences of this track are melded together in an attractive array of instruments and sounds. It’s difficult to fully appreciate the genius of such a great work and how this song has very few lyrics but manages to say so much. The vocal performance of this track emphasises and complements the lyrics perfectly while the deep tones of Ivan’s voice add an unmistakable, distinctive dimension to this song. It is possibly one of his best works to date. Even though the lyrics are quite cynical, this track is still a tribute to the resilience of a person’s ability to rise up and overcome dire circumstances in their life.
4. GOT A REPUTATION
Got a Reputation is a tongue-in-cheek song a bit like Doug Mulray’s “I’m a Punk” but instead pokes fun at the attitudes that come with being a rebellious teenager. The lyrics in the first verse deal with the ever-present concern that parents have regarding their teenage daughters’ inability to recognise the perils and repercussions of something as seemingly innocuous as hanging around a group of teenage boys. The second part of the verse describes the common theme of a father’s difficulty in communicating to a teenager certain knowledge that they will need in order to prosper in life. The track has a 70’s punk rock sound to it, the intro has a similarity to Led Zeppelin’s Communication Breakdown. The arrangement of the song is typical of 70’s punk as it has three verses and no chorus, with the main hook line in the first and third verses.
5. SHE SAID
She Said is about how it is often easier to get perspective on someone else’s life than your own, and how we judge ourselves far more harshly than we would judge others. The piano rhythm in this track has it bouncing along in joyous abandon, it serves as an antidote to the previous tracks on the album. The lead guitar in the intro gives it a definite radio friendly sound, overall the musical elements of the song are cleverly melded together in a harmonic collage that makes it very easy to listen to. As in Ivan’s previous album Dirty Lie it shows a lighter side to Ivan’s songwriting. She Said has classic Australian rock and pop elements, and 70’s and 80’s influences, while clever use of cello in the verses gives a contemporary feel.
The track “Believe” is the first single to be released from Ivan’ s upcoming album. Following its release in March 2017 it shot up the independent digital radio charts to number 27, and to number 30 on the national rock charts.
The song starts with a distinctive drum roll to ease into the intro, before any lyrics are heard the song gives off a definite pop sensibility. The first line suggests that the rest of the lyrics will continue in a cliched manner, but the second line does an unexpected 180° turn that grabs your attention to raise enough curiosity to see where this song’s lyrical trajectory will end up. The jungle rhythm in the verse is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”. The piano in this track is well thought out and adds to the drums to give an upbeat groove to the track, while 60’s organ and intermittent celeste provides a retro sound. The vocals in the chorus give the song an emotional dimension that makes it difficult to ignore the desperation in the lyrics. In summary “Believe” is a bittersweet, slightly desperate song about relationships in the context of the difficulties of our times.
7. HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT
How Do You Sleep At Night was written about an incident on Ivan’s street involving a young woman who was dragged into an abandoned house and sexually assaulted. The incident happened at around 10am at a busy intersection and astoundingly no one saw what happened. When Ivan read about it in the local paper months after it happened he found out that the perpetrator had not been identified or apprehended due to the lack of witnesses. This incident incensed him that much that it became the inspiration for this track. The verses manage to not go into any graphic detail but still convey the predatory way in which the perpetrator managed to ambush his victim. The pre-chorus asks how could this happen in daylight on such a busy road. The chorus angrily points the finger at the individual that did this and questions how seared their conscience must be to allow them to live with the knowledge of what they had done.
8. BROKEN WING
Broken Wing starts with a melancholic and ambient feel to it, from the cymbal swells down to finger-picked guitar the introduction gently glides into the first verse. The music for this song had been around for well over a decade, it was originally the basis for a song that Ivan played in a psychedelic rock band called “The Haze” with long-time collaborator Darren Wheeler. The chord arrangement was similar to a song called “Dreaming” with Darren writing the lyrics and singing lead vocals. The band lasted only a year and never recorded any song material or played any gigs, its sole purpose for existing was to encourage musical experimentation. The simplicity of this song’s lyrics may not suit every critic but it would be very unjust to write this track off as overly simple given the complex instrumentation and inspiring use of vocal harmonies throughout. The beauty of this track is in the space that is created. The very subtle use of a 70’s organ give it a rich and vibrant energy that contrasts the lyrics’ mood of melancholy.
9. ORDINARY MAN
As the title suggests, Ordinary Man was inspired by Ivan”s working class background. The intro has a definite Pink Floyd influence to it with a droning organ and slow tempo. The verses present a dystopian mood, you can imagine walking around a crowded street totally invisible to everyone else around. The chorus kicks in unexpectedly into an anthem for the working class with the extra dimension of the discomfort of uncertainty, and of not being able to find the answer to your own identity or even truly understand the feelings of confusion that haunt you on a daily basis. The musical landscape that this track depicts mirrors the dark, grimy, and at times claustrophobic steel factories that exist in Melbourne. Add the extra element of the daily possibility of losing life and limb to this and it explains a great deal about the honest and unapologetic artist that Ivan has become.
10. LOST CHILD
Lost child is a philosophical meandering that plumbs the depth of how interconnected by technology we have all become – right down to the to the point where we walk down the street every day and fail to notice anyone else around. The first verse presents the existential question of where all this will end up. The pre-chorus introduces the idea that the author is perplexed about life and seems to be waiting for something but has no idea of what that is. The chorus sums up all the confused apprehension by simply expressing that inwardly a lot of us can feel like a lost child wandering around in life, not knowing where our place is or if there even is one for us. The bass and cellos set the mood of the track with its adagio tempo and deep winding scale runs that emphasise a feeling of profound sadness.
11. ONE LAST GOODBYE
One Last Goodbye is about the painful experience of the sudden death of Ivan’s father after an aneurism. It suggests that no-one truly gets over the loss of a loved one no matter what the circumstances. This song almost didn’t end up on the album for a few reasons: the obvious one being due to the personal nature of it and the feelings and strong emotions it evokes in the author; another being that it might set off a perception that it commercialises the death of a loved one. It was a hard decision to make, but in the end Ivan’s feeling that to not let anyone hear such an honest and well-crafted track would be criminal outweighed the concerns he had.
WHATEVER is an album of many colours. It could be viewed as being a modern musical kaleidoscope, it may also be viewed as one man’s artistic roller coaster ride but what it definitely can’t be viewed as is a pretentious, irrelevant pile of fast food for the ears. The honesty that Ivan exudes on this album could not have been done under a major label; he would never have been allowed to produce such a brutally honest work. The intellectual elements of this album are uniquely woven amongst a tapestry of simple melodies and minimalist lyrical content and exquisite instrumentation. To call Ivan Beecroft a modern musical genius is an understatement but would probably still make him uncomfortable. He would be more comfortable being known as a working class bloke who’s absolutely fed up with the status quo and is unafraid to stand up to the corporate bullies and spineless, treacherous politicians who have created the rampant social inequality that exists today. The huge chart success of the single “Believe” racing up to number 27 on the national rock charts and independent charts simultaneously in its first week, gave Ivan the confidence to release this album under his own label and fund it himself. So every element of this album is unadulterated by a major label: it is truly and undeniably organic right down to the mixing and mastering. As Ivan says, there is NO AUTO-TUNE ON THIS ALBUM, NO SEMI NAKED GIRLS IN FILM CLIPS, NO PRETENTIOUS POSTURING IN BAND SHOTS, NO BULLSHIT!!!! just raw honesty.