Itch’s second album release Round 2 is one of those rare collections that lives up to the billing of having something for everyone. “Prison Disco” opens things closer to funk than the disco cited in the song title, but it is a song that engages listeners on a physical level while still introducing newcomers to the unquestioned smarts defining the band’s overall songwriting. It takes transformative detours along the way however. Dušan Simic’s brittle sounding funk riffing segues into a hard distorted crunch before the song concludes and returns to its initial direction without ever losing the listener. Vocalist and newcomer to the band Nina Budjinski shows she is skillful enough to tackle both styles in convincing fashion.
Vihor Ristic is the band’s second newcomer and his bass playing provides a crucial piece to the album’s musical success. His contributions to the album’s fourth track “Defpotec” are ear and eye popping alike and this track highlights the evident chemistry he has with the band’s drummer Filip Stanišic. Their chemistry continues on full display with the fifth track “ReRe” thanks, in part, to the expert way Itch’s rhythm section navigates the band through an unusual tempo and seamlessly transitions into more straight forward passages defined by Simic’s guitar crunch. Budjinski once again demonstrates her talent for inhabiting any musical texture and making listeners believers.
The album’s first single “Captain Love” encompasses a number of the band’s strengths in one track. It dispenses, for the most part, with any of the heavy guitar riffing we hear in many of the album’s earlier tracks. This doesn’t mean guitarist Dušan Simic disappears – far from it. The song has the best guitar solo you’ll hear on Round 2 and that lead break puts an emphatic exclamation point on the performance. “Sun Will Rise” takes us back into pure hard rock terrain though the band alternates the hard-edged riffing with lighter passages adorned with tasteful ornamental passages that are much more than empty glitter.
Round 2’s penultimate number “Yura” has a marquee performance from drummer Filip Stanišic thanks to the breakneck and precise pace he maintains for the entire song. Nina Budjinski’s vocals keep up, however, and she sounds charged with crackling energy throughout the recording. Itch ends the album with “Mangata” and the melodic opening gives way to a revolving feel through the song’s verses that makes for a satisfying finale to an impressive release.