Iceage, fronted by Elias Ronnenfelt, debuted when they were still teenagers with
the juvenile punkish tunes of
New Brigade (What's Your Rupture, 2011).
The album has neither the desperate ferocity of real punk-rock nor the
enthusiastic soulfulness of punk-pop; it cruises along with
just a generic verve and the fashionable 1980s overtones.
White Rune is a cheap imitation of Devo.
The jagged and atonal You're Blessed boasts the best shift of gears.
The vocalist is a bit tedious, the playing is a bit amateurish, the overall
concept is dejavu.
The more varied You're Nothing (Matador, 2013) made a virtue of
the band's indecision. The ferocious voodoobilly Ecstasy,
the midtempo grinding of Burning Hand,
the gloomy atmosphere of Morals (with piano and agonizing declamation),
and the tense melodrama of Wounded Hearts
walk on a tightrope between the dogmas of hardcore and a more evolved
form of communication.
Less convincing is perhaps the hardcore-pop of Coalition, which sounds
like vintage Husker Du.
And the good news is that the band is even better at what they used to do,
from the booming and menacing It Might Hit First to the
power riffs and anthemic hooks of Everything Drifts, possibly
the album's standout.
Iceage quickly transformed into a smooth folk-rock band for
Plowing Into the Field of Love (Matador, 2014), a collection of
both midtempo and slow ballads, like the
martial, U2-esque (but tuneless) Forever.
The best numbers are the exceptions to that rule:
The Lord's Favorite, that harks back to country-punk of the 1980s,
On My Fingers, that feels like one of Nick Cave's emphatic and propulsive sermons,
Abundant Living could be Nick Cave fronting Led Zeppelin during their cover of How Many More Times.
Iceage's vocalist Elias Ronnenfelt also started the side-project
Var, a collaboration with Sexdrome's Loke Rahbek,
that debuted with the rather amateurish The World Fell (2013).
Beyondless (2018) employed strings and horns to make their roots-rock
more unique. In most cases the result is boring and lifeless, but
the jazz fanfare that hijacks the chaotic Pain Killer (Sky Ferreira on vocals)
and the jazz trumpet that mocks the drunk lament of Showtime
Much of their music now harkens back to the classics.
If Under the sun is the bastard grandson of British folk-rock of the 1960s,
and the honkytonking Thieves Like Us belongs to country-rock of the 1970s,
The Day the Music Dies is a hybrid of crunchy soul-rock a` la
Rolling Stones-ian bacchanal.
Beyondless would be a major number in the repertory of Ziggy-era
If Take It All is a
U2-esque ballad camouflaged as a
Nick Cave-esque meditation,
Catch It evokes the decadent litany of the Velvet Underground's Venus In Furs.
There is no genius, but enough variety and elegance to rescue the band from the
embarrassment of Plowing.
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