Iceage – You’re Nothing (Matador Records)

February 19, 2013 by  

Iceage-Youre-Nothing-album-cover

Iceage have never been a particularly forthcoming band, treating the press with an icy manner – making it hard for journalists to get the answers they want out of them. In an interview with The Quietus, Elias said “It’s not our job to explain the songs”. On record, this air of hostility is extremely present; heard most in the biting tone of Elias’ vocals. It’s not straight-up aggression though – it’s a wounded aggression, more often than not sounding like a mixture of pain and anger. None of the members of the Danish four-piece have even graced the age of twenty and have already made two hard-hitting records that are beyond their years. The band have often been described as punk, both in music and in lifestyle, not helped by the publishing of a zine called Dogmeat that featured gruesome fascist imagery. But You’re Nothing shows that there’s a melodic edge to Iceage that wasn’t showcased on New Brigade.

However, that isn’t to say that there still isn’t a threatening quality to the Danish outfit. The messily distorted, razor-sharp riffs and almost inaudible vocals are still there but they’re not quite so rough around the edges. From first cut and opener ‘Ecstacy’, it’s clear that something has changed. Elias growls “Can’t take this pressure”, whilst perhaps not directly linked – it’s a response to the mass attention that Iceage have received from those in the music industry, something I’m not sure any of them envisioned when they started the band at the age of 16 or have necessarily welcomed. It’s a world away from the stumbling opener of New Brigade, ‘Intro’ which clunked into view like a badly oiled machine, this time making an impact from the off.

You’re Nothing may be more accomplished than its predecessor but it’s possibly less consistent. Whilst you’d expect to find an interlude in the middle of a record, ‘Interlude’ appears 3 songs in – a slice of jagged industrial with a marching band type drum beat rapidly taking over the song before suddenly disappearing. ‘In Haze’ is undoubtedly the standout and also the cleanest that Iceage have sounded so far whilst still maintaining their signature sound. Instead of the pure chaos that infiltrates the majority of the record, ‘In Haze’ is chaos distilled with the skilled guitar riffs and rapid bassline taking the foreground as the distortion so heavily featured elsewhere takes a backseat.

Elias prefers to sing in English but we get some Danish in there too in the form of ‘Rodfæstet’, translating to Rooted. Iceage’s second album reaffirms that there’s something simultaneously unsettling and alluring about their music. Elias’ vocals really take centre stage as everything else around them also cleans up. However, You’re Nothing is still teaming with angst as songs such as ‘It Might Hit First’ are like a punch bag being hit repeatedly for the entirety. A record that shifts in tone throughout but is ultimately summed up by its title and closing phrase, as a screaming Elias repeats “You’re nothing”.

[rating:4]


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