Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and raised in Vologda, a small city of a few hundred miles from Moscow, Ivan Smirnov was heavily influenced by American/British rock scene and started writing his own musical material in English at the age of 8. While studying classical piano for five years, Ivan also picked up interest in the guitar by the age of 19 he had an independent, self-produced album under his belt. Inspired by legendary artists like John Lennon, Freddy Mercury, David Bowie, Steve Tyler, and Russian composers, Ivan started to immortalize his feelings in his music and create a new feeling of rock for his followers he later called “Blitz Rock.” While it’s an admiral thing to do, it doesn’t always get the best results to branch out of your favorite genre this way. It’s neither something people are ready for, not a tried and true concept at the outset. But with Privet Earth’s 2nd release “Breaking The Ice,” some ground appears to be breaking to reach that musical goal Smirnov is ultimately after, with a worldwide digital deal and records going into the big world chains as well, for this Russian native who fronts this increasingly popular alternative rock three piece outfit with strong lyrical content in which drives it.
The CD has everything going for it, but Ivan’s vocals are all over the place at times, and that isn’t always a bad thing, to explain that it suits the music well, no matter where he goes. In some places it seems all so very manic, but that is part of its charm and gets you to like it somehow. There is some great guitar backing it all as well, but not as things kick off with the dreaminess of Ice Orkestra, which doesn’t really set the mood up for what’s to come, it just more or less stands apart from the rest as more a part of an album’s intro and outro cuts. It establishes the club vibe. Then things really get underway with the single Forest Queen, a very accessible percussive track with some of the best vocals on the disc, with a sort of narrative feel. There is a lot of use of what appears to be sampling, and other electronic leanings which don’t help this song, which is very reminiscent of Texas band “Ghostland Observatory,” especially in the vocal department. Out of all that can be found here it is pretty epic, once you wrap your ears around it. This makes way for a release full of different sounds and musical approaches ranging from the danceable to the nutty and almost “Weird Al” sort of approach. This is all very fun, and very different, but you can also tell there are a lot of influences felt from the 80s to arrive at something original. And that’s just after the following track Big City, leaving quite a bit of the vernacular to chew on with songs like Kool Cool Boy with its properly repetitive chorus, fun melody and overall excellent revisit of the entire 80s decade, to Blue Bottle and Embryo serving the platter up well. It all flies by so quickly you’re intrigued for more. But I’m not sure what hold more value, the production, the vocals or the music, but either way it’s a good blend of styles that make up this band. I like more here than I don’t, and that is a testament of its unique delivery that closes revisiting Ice Orketsra.
In a world full of new genres and trends flying around, Privet Earth might seem confusing as they contain so many cool ways to answer to that, and it certainly is an interesting twist they bring to get there, with a great voice that can tend to lose the listener but always finds them again before a song is over.