ALBUM REVIEW: Ivy by Charmer

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

The indie and punk band Charmer follows up with sophomore record Ivy out on No Sleep Records. The band from Marquette, Michigan dropped their self titled debut in 2018 which captivated fans. It was catchy, energetic, and above all enjoyable to listen to. The band has a formula where they are influenced by different math rock and indie bands of the past and present. Songs on the debut record were really emotionally powerful and spoke to a kind of alienation that is often felt throughout life, and in Ivy, the band continues to pull from that same formula, only this time building off the success of the previous and fine tuning their sound. The result is one of the best albums of the genre and another reason why Charmer is such an incredible band. 

Charmer is able to write catchy hooks and also talk about intense subject matter in a way that the listener can really connect with. From the bands Spotify page in regard to Ivy, “the record is a snapshot of the time in everyone’s life when they stop long enough to realize everything, including themselves, is changing.” Some of the lyrics on this record are deeply emotional and come right from the heart. It holds nothing back and is about as honest as any record could possibly be. The band is promoting optimism while staying brutally honest with the listener. Ivy wants you to make the best of the present and not dwell on nostalgia. 

Side A begins with “Slumber,” not only the first track of the record but the first single released by the band. With its infectious poppy hooks and punk energy, it’s a great song to begin the record. It commands the room and its use of somber lyricism and vocals. David Daignault commands the track and the ethos of the record’s rejection of nostalgia is present as well as the lyrics “wondered when I was younger where I thought I’d be now.” “Dead Plants” with its melodically thorough instrumentation drives the record forward and is fun and atmospheric. “Doom,” which was also the second single, is another heavy burner about letting go as is evident by the lyrics “The seasons won’t change if you still haunt my brain.”

“Wolf Fang Fist” is perhaps one of the most emotionally written tracks and one that really questions the psyche of most young people dealing with issues of self-worth and the quest for love. “Windbreaker” is a banger in every sense of the word. Fast drumming and overall energetic instrumentation. Daignault with blood hurling screams carries this track as the entire band rallies behind his vocals on this track. It is infectious and above all really a change in pace for the band. It still contains the signature melodic elements, but changes pitch and tempo throughout the track to make a song that will be put on repeat for time to come. “December” closes out the A side with a nice track that features some really inventive math rock and twinkly guitar tones.

“Wither” begins the B side with a really well thought out track that allows for low key guitar instrumentation as well as other instruments to slowly build up into the mix and have their moments of being able to unleash at the end of the track as the band finally comes together in unison to breakout the track. “VCR 666” combines a lot of previous elements Charmer is known for which is grand instrumentation and use of shifting pitch throughout the track. “Track & Field” amps up the energy for a dancey punk anthem that’s both catchy and really well written. The guitar work on this track is really tight and utilizes those math rocky hooks that have become such a staple for the band. They really work well in diversifying the tracks and add an extra layer of depth.

“Sunshine Magazine” switches pace and goes to an acoustic guitar and vocal structure. It is lowkey and heartfelt, especially when the trumpet comes into the mix towards the latter half. It creates a mood that finds the record beginning to come to a close as “Chandelier” closes it off. It continues the mellow mood but brings the band back to close out. Its use of guitar picking to make for a really somber mood creates the atmosphere. Classic sounding math rock riffs dominate this track as used for emotion and setting the band off into the sunset as the record concludes.

Charmer has now cemented themselves as one of the best bands in the genre. Whether you call them DIY, indie, punk or emo music the result is that of a band that has since day one wrote really intense and heartfelt music. They bring an energy to their music that only few are able to truly capture, and that is why Charmer is so successful. They make their music and sound their own. It’s unfortunate that the current world landscape is preventing the band from touring because there is no doubt they would be selling out shows left and right, they are that good. Make sure to support Charmer on either Bandcamp or through their merch sales. This is a welcomed addition to the indie music landscape, and Charmer is here to stay. 

For Fans of: Retirement Party, Pictures of Vernon, Michael Cera Palin


Side A:

  1. Slumber
  2. Dead Plants
  3. Doom
  4. Wolf Fang First
  5. Windbreaker
  6. December

Side B:

  1. Wither
  2. VCR 666
  3. Track & Field
  4. Sunshine Magazine
  5. Chandelier


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