Iceage – Beyondless
With their fourth album, Iceage continue to be one of the most exciting bands in music
Iceage revel in reinvention. First album New Brigade offered blunt, shambolic, abrasive punk; follow-up You’re Nothing refined that punk into razor sharp hooks; Plowing Into the Field of Love was a champagne swilling, country honky-tonk left turn; and now comes Beyondless, a record altogether more iconic sounding, but no less strange.
As they’ve evolved, the anchor has always been frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s unique voice, infectiously tuneless and dripping in excess, in love with his own impressive articulacy. On Plowing, he was the spoiled Lord’s Favorite; by Beyondless, he is the charismatic cult leader proselytizing from the pulpit (literally, in the video for The Day the Music Dies).
It may seem a little self-serious, but across their discography, and especially on these last two records, the Danes’ tongues are firmly in their cheeks – the Scandinavian outsiders smartly send up our expectations of the classic American rockstar. It’s over the top, luxuriant and atmospheric, but always knowing.
The music on Beyondless straddles a thin line between anthemic and macabre. Lead single Catch It is the perfect example – the slow trudging build mixed with medieval brass explodes in a racket that harks back to their early days. When they want to be, Iceage are so foreboding as to make even sleigh bells sound sinister.
Thieves Like Us is a bluesy Let It Bleed-esque stomp; Pain Killer, a horn-driven gleaming glam tune; and Showtime would not sound out of place in the Twin Peaks Roadhouse. The latter is no accidental comparison, even if it is an overplayed one. Like David Lynch, Rønnenfelt is most comfortable speaking about characters who are doomed and crestfallen, continuously finding splendour in the dirt
As the album comes to an end, the four-piece drop in Take It All, which approaches a kind of beauty only briefly glimpsed at previously, and finish with the soaring title track. Iceage continue to be one of the most exciting bands in music.
Listen to: Catch It, Take It All, Beyondless