King of La Strada: IAMX’s Kingdom of Welcome Addiction

IAMX Kingdom of Welcome Addiction

If you’ve seen Fellini’s La Strada, and witnessed both the beautiful freedom of the gypsy circus and the brutality of its everyday existence and dysfunctional relationships, you’ll understand IAMX’s latest album, Kingdom of Welcome Addiction. Just as Fellini demonstrates a love and compassion for humanity and its circuses, Chris Corner has proven his musical genius in a record that is cinematic in its musical poetry and evocative in its dissection of human flaws and relationships. Rather than stay with thumping, slinking dance anthems and cabaret-style provocation, Corner has progressed into much more personal and political territory, resulting in both a yearning for a collective, more romantic, past, but also an attempted, futile escape from a personal one. It is the sound of humans who can’t help themselves, going too far despite how it may harm the self and hurt others. It is the soundtrack for the aesthetic pleasure in damage and violence and the sweetness of being a mess.

You enter Corner’s realm via Nature of Inviting, a song that provides the perfect bridge between The Alternative and this record. A low, muddy bass beat pulses beneath creaking squeals and crisp snare, and Corner alternates between a seductive lower, dreamy register and a heart-fluttering falsetto before throwing himself into an anguished, strangled “I love you/I hate you” refrain. The push and pull of contradictory desires and their irresistible power infuse the track with sensuality and danger. Then the title track comes in with spiralling, flamenco before a dramatic pounding of a bass drum and sweeping orchestral presence. As a counterpoint to the theatric, Corner’s vocals become a tender whisper for the chorus: “If you chose life/You know what the fear is like/If you welcome addiction/This is your kingdom”; there’s strength in weakness here and a revelling in being broken, if only to feel and live more intensely than those who are more successful at holding themselves together. Shifting from the serious drama of the preceding song to the seeming lightness of a mincing rhythm, plinking keys and snapping fingers, Tear Garden immediately brings to mind the German word “Tiergarten,” meaning “zoo,” and also reminds me more specifically of the famous Berlin Tiergarten and Octave Mirbeau’s The Torture Garden simultaneously. I get a sense of the inescapability of the crueler side of human nature, the way we’re hardwired with a self-aware consciousness, but with no better self-control than the animals we supplant. Though Corner sings, “I do evil things and evil things return,” there’s relief and redemption in the chords and cadences of the chorus as it seesaws and sighs, dropping like the purifying salinity of tears.

Corner’s duet with Imogen Heap, My Secret Friend, is a moody meditation on what seems to be an intoxicatingly intense relationship with undertones of dysfunction. Their voices meld, intertwine and parallel each other so wonderfully that they evoke an almost familial intimacy or an enigmatic twinning consciousness. The song entices you with the beauty of a nightshade, menacing and disturbing you as much as it intrigues and attracts you. Corner becomes more politically explicit on An I For An I, which takes on organized religion and its tunnel vision leading to self-fulfilling apocalyptic prophecy. Between the screwy, seasick waltz feel and Corner’s distorted, desperate half-screams, it generates an all-consuming paranoia and a feverish brain reeling with the cruelties of the outside world. As Corner howls lines like “The anger and enclosure of desire” and “Humility and touch is in decline,” he creates a feeling of straining against iron chains until your ribs crack and your lungs collapse. While I love all the songs on this album, I particularly adore I Am Terrified, a lullaby-like song with a 3/4 time signature and gentle, cascading arpeggios. It surges with a crystalline brokeness and the fear of losing control of one’s own mind, or even attempting to comprehend the mystery of that consciousness that drives human motives like a skidding, rattling motorcycle down a dirt road. As Corner’s voice soars, the lyric that resonates the most with me is “I am terrified I think too much”; it’s self-awareness that catches in the throat like a deliciously bittersweet sob.

Free download single, Think of England, which preceded the album back in November, is an urgent, syncopated anthem of breaking free, but an underlying inability to completely escape the burning bridges behind you. Making a reference to the 19th-century practice of telling newly married women to just “lie back and think of England” when enduring sex with their husbands, the track expresses the impossibility of escaping your past while more specifically referring to Corner’s move from his home country to Berlin; the peace is always short-lived and “the poison stories just repeat themselves in a fucked-up mess.” More social commentary comes in The Stupid, The Proud, one of the most circus-like compositions with its gypsy acoustic guitar and dark, broad strokes that evoke the whirling farces and exaggerated gestures of harlequins and Pierrots in grainy black and white celluloid. Condemning the stupidity of crowds and the enduring human flaw of pride, Corner sings, “The armies of faithful/The killers of reason, the grief of the crowd/The stupid, the proud/They blow our houses down,” performing like a child clown full of fairy tale in spite of a streetwise cynicism.

Another track that really resonates with me is You Can Be Happy, which begins with middle eastern flourishes and adds a pumping, insistent rhythm. There is a vein of hope and compassion in this song as Corner reminds himself that despite the pressing stench of a horrific, unjust world, he can open himself for brief moments of happiness. The spoken vocal by Janine Gezang, which states “It’s a cruel world for small things/But with lies and luxuries/in the in-between you can be happy,” is fantastically cool detachment that plays off the passionate singing provided by Corner. The Great Shipwreck of Life is a heart-pumping track with some of the best lines on the album, including “Release cold gender bombs on colonial closet middle England” and “We light up the bars of the world with the decadent essence of innocence/Free but sharp.” It’s a celebration of our equality in fraility and the liberty in recognizing it, all against a brilliant melody; if we’re going to fall down, we’re going to take the world with us. The record concludes with Running, a spine-tingling piece about necessary, self-imposed solitude. A self-proclaimed atheist, Chris Corner has also stated that he still loves the sound of hymns, and Running is definitely a page from the hymnal of harsh realities. At the same time, it retains a romantic wistfulness that speaks to that spiritual thread of our DNA that gives us just enough belief to preserve us. The refrain of “I must always run the race on my own” breaks my heart while the slightly shuffling, hollow bouncing beat sounds like world-weary footsteps limping into the distance.

Finding the glamour in reality’s poverty, Corner has produced an impressive installment in his identity project, IAMX. I applaud his honesty and vulnerability in this album; Kingdom of Welcome Addiction is cathartic and edifying in its presentation of pain and pleasure. I feel the weight of Fellini’s post-war weariness and recovery in Corner’s music along with the magical realism of the circus and the empathy in the chaos. The IAMX musical persona is a combination of Zampano, Gelsomina and the Fool, foiled by their own inabilities to escape themselves and disentangle themselves from that which will harm them because those very things can also give them meaning and joy. Chris Corner unites us nomadic freaks who cannot find a home anywhere else, those of us who feel like we’re living on the fringes, full of anger and sorrow, naivete and laughter.

The Stupid, The Proud – IAMX

You Can Be Happy – IAMX


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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

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Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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