MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2013 |
Posted by: Stephen Cardone
In 2011, the unlikely anti-heroes of post-punk artistry made their way out of the humble but thriving Copenhagen DIY scene onto the worldwide stage and nobody really knew what to make of it. The Danish rockers that call themselves Iceage were not yet in their twenties, but they sounded like they could have existed alongside their forefathers in 1979, thanks in part to primary songwriter Elias Bender Ronnenfelt's baritone growl. It was a charming combo and Iceage quickly became the critical darlings they were always destined to be.
Their first record New Brigade was novel in its simplicity and honesty. It was a frenetic blast that did little to defy any convention. You're Nothing demonstrates that the band is somewhat willing to think outside of the proverbial DIY box. This isn't true 100 percent of the time, obviously. Tracks such as "Coalition" exemplify the kind of straightforward post-punk that has become Iceage's niche. What I mean to say is that even though the band is maturing quite a bit, there are still plenty wall-of-sound moments to be found.
Even the songs that navigate well charted waters, sound slightly more complex than anything they have attempted on New Brigade. Perhaps the band's new look owes itself to Matador Records, the new label that Iceage now calls home in the United States. Certainly Ronnenfelt has more resources at his disposal to create new ideas, but I hardly believe that this is the cause for his newfound excitement for experimentation. When he stated, "If we think a song needs piano now, for example, it's going to have piano," Ronnenfelt took a big step towards becoming the songwriter his band needs him to be (the piano does eventually show up during "Morals").
On the occasions when Iceage step outside of their comfort zone and chase their ambitions, they give a nice glimmer of what the band could sound like if they someday decide to transcend the genre that made them famous. The instrumental "Interlude" is the first moment where it becomes entirely possible that they could pull of something exponentially more substantial. Already there is a tension between what the band wants to be now, and what their fans have come to expect. That's a weighty burden for a sophomore release. There is a visible fear of becoming grandiose. They get their feet wet, but do not dive in head first and indulge themselves.
For now, that is definitely enough to make everybody happy, although I am doubtful they can maintain that balancing act. In the future, I hope they avoid sticking to their guns and instead choose to go all in on the more textured approach that You're Nothing gestures toward. The gamble might just pay off. That is not to say that Iceage should abandon the essence of what makes them great at this particular moment. They should be having fun sounding like themselves, but not at the cost of redundancy. I only say this because they have so much potential to explore something new. However, if You're Nothing is any indication, they will take incremental steps in the right direction.