I’ll admit that I was never the biggest fan of iceage, that when I had the opportunity to see them live for free, I passed it up. Back in 2011, their first album had a bunch of hype, and I wasn’t into it. It felt too visceral, cynical, without any interesting breaks from the aggressive Nordic sound. Plowing Into the Field of Love, the band’s newest release, has dramatically altered my opinion of the group. Now I feel like an idiot for not having gotten into iceage sooner.
This album is a bloody-knuckled wall punch; it’s aggressive but doesn’t make me angry for the rest of the day (see: Minor Threat, Reagan Youth). Field of Love has been very apropos for this dreary Denmark-esque weather that Bloomington has been having.
One thing I really judge music, especially rap and rock-related genres, on is lyrical content (unapologetic in my English major-ness). In a genre of simplistic, terse messages, the content expectation is fairly low. Fortunately iceage breaks from the lyrical black hole that is punk music, and tracks like Stay epitomize this height of punk’s lyrical content:
Grazing peacefully on the plains of functionality
And then suddenly breaking free, with snorting and fiery breath
As if to run out of its own skin, it flies across the landscape
When I’m alone
It poses as a constant threat
Hands become thundering hooves
Every which way I turn
I can sense it creeping in
Singer Rønnenfelt’s lyrical content consistently excels throughout the entire album and the group’s instrumentals do well at complementing his narratives. It flows like a soundtrack of some nihilistic, ubi sunt Western. Songs like “Abundant Living” are reminiscent of the best of Titus Andronicus , who were the last giants of this aggressive, intelligent sound that iceage so effectively capitalizes upon. I also don’t think I’m going too far in saying that this sound also borrows from some of the greatest of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ canon, like Henry’s Dream, which is legendary in its own right.
The first single from the album, “Forever”
Another highlight of this album is the title track, “Plowing into the Field of Love”. The acoustic beginning is surprising for the group at first and is reminiscent of my favorite hopeless slacker rock of the 90s complete with that hypnotizing guitar hook. With this track, the band soars into a new direction that is not only suiting but also incredibly effective. I hope to see more songs like this on their discography in the future.
Speaking as someone who’s been consistently let down by her favorite artists’ new releases (sans FKA twigs), this album is the most excited I’ve been with a new release all year. There’s not a weak track out of the twelve. Go Denmark.