In the past I have been pretty
hard on the band Iceage. I actually never heard of them before everyone started
putting the Danish band’s debut album The New
Brigade on their “Best of 2011” lists. Then when I gave the album a listen
I was shocked to hear how unlistenable the it was. I thought they sounded like The Cure’s Robert
Smith singing in the shower while bassist Simon Gallup, really needing to get
use the facilities, repeatedly bangs his bass guitar on the door (“White Rune”,
“The New Brigade” and “Total Drench”). I could not figure out how this album
was lauded by so many when I thought songs like “Eyes” and “Count Me In” made New Brigade sound like the worst train
wreck in Denmark history since the Vigerslev train wreck of
Soon I would be eating
crow, or how they say it in Iceage’s native Danish, Jeg ville være at spise krage
Sometime during the
fall of 2012, after countless attempts to like New Brigade, it finally clicked.
I still thought they sounded like “The Cure: The Shower Demos” but somehow it
worked. And that train did eventually get back on track. Especially the
triumphant album closer “You’re Blessed”.
Now when I found out Iceage was going
to release their new album You’re Nothing
on Matador Records I was “spændt” for its February release.
The first twenty second into “Ectasy” may
scare you that the band has gone shoegazer on us. Then the drums kick in and
Iceage announces they are back but when singer Elias sings “Pressure, pressure.
Oh god no”, you can’t help to wonder if the band is up to the challenge of
following up such a well revered record as New
Brigade. “Coalition” (Track 2), faster and catchier then anything the band had
recorded before, proves they are.
After a mysterious one and a half minute
track, the very Bauhaus-esque “Burning Hand” comes on. There are even some My
Bloody Valentine fly buzzing guitars during the chorus. You can really hear the
desperation in singer Elias’s voice, especially when towards then end of the
song he asks, “Do you hear me?”.
“In Haze” is where the album really takes
off. Thick and almost melodic guitars guide the strong drunken vocals as they
knock down everything in their path as song moves forward. Those ringing
guitars return for “Wounded Hearts” (Track 8) and the drunken vocals show their
face again on the pounding and very urgent “It Might Hit First” (Track 9)
Now I have heard Iceage compared to so many
different bands from Christian Death to Black Flag and The Necros to Killing
Joke and Wire (who doesn’t get compared to Wire these days) but I have not seen
anyone else compare them to the band which to me is an obvious influence: The Cure.
“Morals” (track 6), although a bit harsher, could just as easily fit alongside “The Funeral Party” on The Cure’s Faith album,
Very Black Metal photo
The (pre-Big Country band) Scottish band The Skids
is another band I am surprised no one has ever brought up. Listen to The Skids “Scared
to Death” album (available on iTunes and Spotify) and you will see exactly
where I am coming from.
Just two albums and an Ep in, Iceage is still working out their own sound. You can still hear pretty
well were their ideas and influences for some of these songs are coming from. If
you ever wondered what Mike Skinner’s band The Streets would have sounded like
if they were a punk band instead of a hip-hop band, “Everything Drifts” (Track
7) will give you a pretty good idea. The chorus sounds like it’s taken right
out of that band’s Original Pirate
Material album. On “Awake” the band goes almost all out indie guitar rock.
The guitars even verge into Dinosaur Jr territory.
many bands are there out there that had their own sound worked out at such a
The album closes
with “You're Nothing” where they take all the aspects of what made the other
11 songs stand out and have them come crashing down on top each other all
around you. This, along with “In Haze” and “Wounded Heart”, is my favorite song
on the record.
Although I like to keep this blog
positive, there are two things just slightly bringing down my overall enthusiasm for You're Nothing
Upcoming New York City shows
The first is I can’t figure out why the band would want to place a minute and a half industrial
factory sounding “Interlude” just three songs into the album. It totally breaks
up the continuity of the album. I could
understand if there were one or two more interludes on the album equal distance
apart on the record but just the one sounds awkward and out of place.
The second is Iceage
chose to sing track 10 in it’s their native Danish language. “Rodfæstet”, which I think
translates to “Deep Seated”, and it almost
sounds like it does not belong on the album. The song is to smooth and zippy .
It’s as if the band loses their uncomfortable edge because they feel more secure singing in their first language. The uncomfortable edge it what makes me like the band.
apologize to guys in Iceage for once saying they sound like The Stone Roses
after their van drove off a cliff. You’re
Nothing proves this band will continue to be a “tvinge” in the punk/noise world.
(All Danish translations are brought to you by Google)