Playing an aggressive but stylish version of punk rock that's intelligent, expressive, and powerfully physical, Iceage are a quartet from Denmark who were still in their teens when they began to gain an international reputation. Iceage was formed in 2008 by singer and guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, guitarist Johan Suurballe Wieth, bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless, and drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen; the four, whose average age at the time was 17, had been friends for years before they began making an impression with their music. In 2009, Iceage issued their first self-titled EP, and by 2011 they'd teamed with Tambourhinoceros Records to issue their debut album, a nervy and hard-hitting set called New Brigade. When the album was issued in the United States in mid-2011, Iceage made their American debut with a performance in Brooklyn, New York. In 2013, Iceage unveiled their second album, the more sophisticated but still brutal set You're Nothing, and the LP earned them a deal with the successful independent label Matador Records. In 2014, Iceage released album number three, Plowing Into the Field of Love, again through Matador; the album marked a new creative direction for the group, with horns, keyboards, and acoustic guitars introduced into the arrangements as the songs became more dynamic and eclectic, without leaving their darker side behind. ~ Mark Deming
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 18, 2013 | Matador
Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Wiry Danish punk revivalists Iceage made a beautiful noise on their 2011 debut, New Brigade, bringing the raw energy of early punk to their chaotic first set of songs. Their brilliant fury wasn't simply a rehash of the bands that influenced them like Wire or pre-Joy Division project Warsaw, but felt more like new life being breathed into the often by-the-numbers punk rock landscape. Where New Brigade was an exciting and furious reminder of how immediate and inspired punk could be, You're Nothing feels like the next logical step taken by a young band whose creative flow is constantly at light speed. Still rooted in the energetic punk and hardcore mania that defined their debut, You're Nothing shows a band that's matured rapidly, approaching more nuanced and sophisticated arrangements, lyrical themes, and ideas. That doesn't just mean the songs are slower, either. Standout tracks like "Everything Drifts" and "Wounded Hearts" maintain the band's urgency while growing more musically introspective. Wandering, searching guitar lines and pensive overall moods bring to mind the punk/college rock hybrid years of early SST bands like Hüsker Dü or the heavy-hearted ire of early post-punk pioneers Embrace and Rites of Spring. The lightning-speed gallop of the drums and an overdriven wall of guitar noise push tracks like "It Might Hit First" more into the hardcore territory of the first record, but more sophisticated tracks like "Morals" with its glistening piano and even a neo-folk/post-industrial-leaning instrumental "Interlude" don't take away from the album's consistency. By the time the title track rolls around to close the album, Iceage have developed a record reaching out in many directions without straining to make any points. Hearing a young band find its voice like this makes for incredibly exciting music, possibly more exciting in practice than the bombast of the group's earliest material. ~ Fred Thomas
Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2014 | Matador
Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
On their first two albums, Iceage sounded like they were young, smart, and very angry, which was fitting enough since the Danish quartet were still in their teens when they cut their first record. But on their third album, 2014's Plowing into the Field of Love, the group has clearly been going through some changes. The intense, hardcore-influenced attack of New Brigade and You're Nothing has given way to a different but similarly passionate sound, with acoustic guitars, piano, and trumpets working their way into the mix, while arrangements leave room for a bit more open space. On numbers like "On My Fingers," "Abundant Living," and "How Many," the results bear a certain resemblance to what Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds conjured on mid-period albums like The Good Son and Tender Prey, though the purposeful slur of Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's vocals is something else again (given how much he sings about drinking on this album, maybe it's just a matter of getting into character). Blues and folk influences run through Plowing into the Field of Love, but they've been twisted by a funhouse mirror into new and sometimes disquieting shapes, while a stylized, arty approach to the arrangements shares space with shards of the band's sharply focused rock energy. Jens Benz and Nis Bysted's introduction is atmospheric but uncluttered, finding clean lines inside Iceage's poetic howl, and the instrumentalists -- guitarist Johan Surrballe Wieth, bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless, and drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen -- take to this music with the right balance of skill and abandon. Iceage have done a fair bit of reinvention on Plowing into the Field of Love, but if the sound is less brutal, it's no less challenging, and emotionally this hits as hard as anything they've released to date. ~ Mark Deming
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