Since her days fronting the short-lived alt. metal act Drill in the ‘90s to joining the KMFDM family from 2000 on, Lucia Cifarelli has proven to be a singularly inspiring force in modern music. Her skills as a vocalist and songwriter have shown her to be capable of a wide range of presentations – aggressive, vicious, melodic, vulnerable – with each of these facets on full display on her new solo record, I Am Eye. Her previous effort, 2003’s From the Land of Volcanos was certainly enjoyable, although perhaps slightly unfocused for its pop accessibility with hints of underground rock fury flying just under the radar of the mainstream; this time, Cifarelli has her claws sharpened as the nine songs on I Am Eye are sure to sink into your psyche.
An anthem for solidarity with all who identify as female, “Girls Like Me” kicks things off as synth arpeggios trickle and echo like raindrops atop a pulsating bed of techno that immediately places the song in a ‘90s headspace; Cifarelli plays with the key in the chorus to give it a somewhat discordant, but no less catchy vibe, the pitch-shifted harmonies adding an extra kiss of dissonance lest things become too comfortable. Similarly, “To Be Alive” is striking for its synthwave ambience, the descending vocals of the chorus and the chiming keyboard tones evoking neon-lit sojourns through a wireframed metropolis, while “Command” is downright funky with its bristling drumbeats and grinding guitars, Cifarelli’s sensuous yet slithering voice practically dancing with the rhythm. The same can be said of the subtle allure of the title track with its wah-wah guitars, handclap snares, and lyrics like “I am the wind that calls your name from the end of time” and “There’s a cavalry of stars bringing reinforcements” insinuating themselves through the speakers. There’s the almost bluesy “Kiss & Tell,” while the lush groove and lithe ambience of “Last of Me,” as well as “Dear Divinity” as the song vacillates between the jazzy trip-hop of the verses to the melodic ferocity of the chorus, with Drill’s John DeServio providing a particularly seething bass tone. Speaking of bass, those who remember the KGC project may delight in hearing “Ever After” in its new form as “Get It,” with Jules Hodgson’s shrill guitar textures stuttering along with the slight glitch effects on Lucia’s voice, and while Dean Garcia’s smooth bass is absent from this version, the song remains a compelling and emotive rocker, leaving “No Place Like Home” to conclude the record as lyrics like “Beat up waterboarded all night” and “Bail out do over dial back to zero,” as well as the repetitions of “Put the gun down” and “No daddy no” in the chorus, all conjuring some rather disturbing images sung with a restrained boldness.
With Sascha Konietzko’s production and co-writing, as well as the presence of the aforementioned Hodgson, Andee Blacksugar, and Andy Selway on various tracks, comparisons to KMFDM are sure to abound in certain moments on I Am Eye; however, these only serve to accentuate the significance of Cifarelli’s role in that band, not just as a singer but as a songwriter. As well, these moments are just that – moments – fragments that add to the whole that is ultimately Lucia Cifarelli, the album drawing on the breadth of her talents and experiences and exhibiting a firm sense of artistic identity. In short, I Am Eye is a tightly orchestrated and superlative electro/rock album.