The Icicle Works' self-titled debut as a whole is an excellent example of post-punk power and beauty. "Chop the Tree" alone is something of a lost classic, with Hugh Jones' note-perfect production, Sharrock's pounding, complex rhythm attack, and McNabb's exquisite singing providing one heck of a start. Indeed, McNabb here sounds like a clear precursor to singers like Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy and the equal of the precise diction and passion of Edwyn Collins. When it comes to the hits, "Love Is a Wonderful Colour" is another prime vocal showcase, with a sparkling guitar/keyboard lead arrangement and a constantly shifting but never pointlessly show-off bass/drums pace. Frankly, the members of U2 must have wished they could be so emotional and so soaring at this point in their careers. As for "Birds Fly," the song stands as a joyous rave-up of quick drums and shimmering guitars with an inspiring, frenetic chorus tempered by a gentle, half-whispered conclusion. Further examples of the group's abilities crop up song for song: the amazing guitar break and serene conclusion of "Reaping the Rich Harvest," the clean crisp flow of "As the Dragonfly Flies" interrupted by a down and dirty guitar line, the soft pipe start to "Lovers' Day," and more. Concluding with the slow burn fire of "Nirvana," The Icicle Works is early-'80s U.K. rock at its considerable best.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett