Forgot everything you thought you knew about Iceage. Gone are the days of their early aggressive over-too-soon scatter power punk and the accusations of being ‘bullies’. In its place is something a lot more thoughtful and informed – a sound which unconsciously sounds like a cocktail made with The Pogues and The Clash, and a small splash of Nick Cave in for good measure.
It’s weird because whenever I tell people I have tickets to see Iceage at London’s 100 Club, they either don’t know what the iconic 100 Club is (lamestreamers) or they think I’m travelling to London to see an innocuous theatre production of a children’s animation. The truth is that Danish nihilistic punks Iceage couldn’t be further away from innocuous and family-friendly theatricals if they tried – they’ve been thrashing out hardcore outsider’s music which normally gets received with a resounding ‘WTF?’ by new listeners. But, this new album indicates a severe change in direction; it has witnessed Iceage taking the tricky step from goodness to greatness.
It all started with the album’s first single entitled The Lord’s Favorite being released in early summer. A fresh sound and a hilarious video to boot, it instantly became a classic and I found myself shoving it down the throats of my entire coterie. The song witnessed lead signer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt rambling seductive imperatives like “come here and be gorgeous for me now” and also his cheeky anti-corporate thoughts “faceless company don’t matter much to me”.
This is an album full to the brim with highlights though – How Many stands out as Plowing into the Field of Love‘s most Clash-like and energetic number, with Rønnenfelt belting “I have a sense of utopia, of what I’m truly ought to do“, Against the Moon sounds more like Nick Cave than Nick Cave does and boasts the hilarious chorus of “I keep pissing against the moon“. What Rønnenfelt means by this is unknown to me, but I’m sure it’s a massive anti-corporate protest that sticks two fingers up at The Man. Probably.
Something that really impresses me about this album is Rønnenfelt‘s lyrics that show a clear improvement of his English since last year’s sophomore You’re Nothing – they consist of mainly of half rhymes if any rhyming at all, which is either the epitome of poetry or just the drunken-sounding ramblings of a Dane struggling to grasp a concrete grip on the English language. The romantic in me subscribes to the former. From the desperate romantic plead of “such a perfect lover I could become” off the aforementioned How Many to the tender “he doesn’t kiss, but says a million regrets” (Simony) and even the ambiguous “come here and balance on my fingers” from album opener On My Fingers, it’s clear that this album is based around the subject of love and/or lust as opposed to their previous albums, which are full of teenage angst and anguish.
Album closer and title track Plowing into the Field of Love is beautifully euphoric and uplifting – it’s the most educated, romantic and best thing they’ve ever done. It’s also the closest that Iceage have ever come to having an actual chorus in a song. Overall, Iceage‘s third album can be a struggle to comprehend at times with the rough/drunk vocals sometimes being wonderfully unlistenable lyric-wise, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Plowing… is the soundtrack to a disaffected youth kicking out against what’s expected of them, and with a drastic and successful evolution of their musical abilities as a band, it has surely left countless of previously unreachable doors unhinged for Iceage to plow straight into for albums to come.