Iceage - You're Nothing
Having managed to calmly stride through, rather than being thrown off of, a media circus that oscillated between alternating assignations of them as punk-rock saviours or Nazi hell-spawn in the wake of their acclaimed debut New Brigade, Iceage return with a record presented seemingly with no particular point to prove.
Where the record lacks some of the more instrumentally distinctive moments of previous material, what they trade them for is a cogency and cohesion which reflects an increased confidence in their performance. This in particular is what demarcates Iceage for acclaim in a genre that some might argue peaked in significance and inventiveness some time ago (perhaps Fugazi took it with them went they went AWOL?), and though innovation might not be foremost on the agenda, they do everything that should be their bread and butter naturally, charismatically and exceedingly well. Songs like the killer title-track, ‘Wounded Hearts’ (packed with gang vocals that threaten to absolutely kill live), and ‘Morals’ (all the more intense for the introduction of piano and its tempo reduction) come in spades, fundamentally quality down to their very bones.
Amidst the musical tumult and raucousness that dominates and ensures that they’re less creeping glacier than pounding snowstorm – despite a worthy experiment into the more wholly atmospheric with the instrumental ‘Interlude’ – where Iceage really shine is the lyrics of frontman Elias Rønnenfelt. The vocals' increased clarity in the mix is much appreciated for this particular reason, as, though laconic, in their sparseness they’re honest, nuanced and developed enough to circumvent the accusation of a cynical mind that the mantric choruses - “Excess”, “Pressure”, “Do you hear me?”, “Where’s your morals? – are all perfectly designed for scrawling in exercise book margins, and actually give cathartic release both on the page and in their forthright, compelling delivery.
The overriding sensation to be left with is that there’s a heightened density to Iceage this time round, a satisfying added weight to the songs in both the production and composition, which is reinforced by the brevity at both the level of individual tracks and as a recorded totality, blow after blow being levelled to the extent that it threatens exhaustion on end-to-end, and repeat listening (… but that’s kind of the point).
This is a work of refined power, both recapturing and emboldening the essence of what justifiably brought Iceage to widespread consciousness first time around.