20 Oct 2014

Iceage / Plowing Into The Field of Love (album review)

Iceage's newest album, Plowing Into The Field Of  Love is seen as a move away from the loud punk rock roots of You're Nothing, which was arguably the greatest album of last year. But whilst some people see it as a move away, a total rejig, to me it seems more like an album that's built on the great bits of You're Nothing to make it better.

Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's caustic, dark lyrics are still there; that's more than apparent from the first rasps of "the world was once seen burning in my eyes/the same way it was seen burning in yours" on Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled. The frontman's lyrics are almost spat out of his dry throat, as if he had his last drink a week ago and these are his dying words.

Although it's just as menacing, just as intimidating and just as ferocious as You're Nothing, it's more refined, and more mature. The songs have all pretty much doubled in length; the drummer's post-punk influence seems to have gone down under; the calculated motoriks of Steven Morris are swapped for a more stand-off-ish Phil Calvert (The Birthday Party) approach. The whole album, in fact, seems to sound a bit more Nick Cave and a bit more Birthday Party across the board, but obviously this is no bad thing. 
But you'd be doing Elias Rønnenfelt and co. a disservice to say they're not wholly original artists. Their sound is unsettling, angry, and quite unlike anything else. It's almost as if the Danes are broadcasting their stranded thoughts from a dystopian parallel. The Lord's Favourite has a kind of psychobilly feel to it, whilst the piano motifs of How Many make it unnervingly ballad-like.

But throughout, Rønnenfelt's lyrics remain powerful, self-examinating lyrics remain central; "You're the only one; though it's hard to admit/That can save me" off of the otherwise upbeat Lord's Favourite  is powerful, but the tenth track Against The Moon is even more heart-wrenching. "Whatever I do/I don't repent/I keep hissing against the moon" he almost squalls over a minor repetitive piano motif. The young Dane sounds almost a broken man on it; you can almost picture him in a Copenhagen apartment, drowning alone in whiskey and Joy Division records. Or maybe that's just my take.

Although it's 49 minutes long, and throughout the record it's hard not to be conscious of how long it is, the album doesn't drag at all. There are no weak, skippable tracks, like the ones that tend to plague unusually long records. Almost every song could be a single, and although 'thrills' probably isn't the right word, it intruiges and positively delights(???) right from go (the rasping claustrophobia of On My Fingers) to the final note of the title track.

Out: Now (6th October)
Buy it: HERE
For fans of: Joy Division, Nick Cave, Eagulls, Savages