In their early days, Danish post-punk quartet Iceage were a furious and hard band. Their initial releases were filled with teenage angst, but their third album, Plowing Into the Field of Love, revealed a change in tone and approach. It represented a band maturing and whose perceptions grew to account for the world as a whole and away from the me. Iceage’s fourth album, Beyondless, is the next step in their development, where they’ve truly gone well beyond the psyche of me to that of a global vision. Consequently, they’ve delivered their most rewarding and rich album to date.
Beyondless is full of surprises and filled with remarkable stories. The wavering “Showtime” stands out with its foreboding, film-noir approach that evolves into a theatrical production out of Moulin Rouge. Front man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s storytelling approaches Kurt Vonnegut levels, as he tells the tale of one night at the theater where the showman blows his brains out. A honky-tonky vibe echoes on the entertaining, Bonnie and Clyde story of “Thieves Like Us”.
The soul-punk “Pain Killer”, though, best represents Iceage’s transformation. Featuring Sky Ferreira on backing vocals, the band infuse some old-time New Orleans soul into their fiery origins. They continue in the soul-punk direction on “The Day The Music Dies”, but a delicate piano replaces the horns. The dark and enrapturing “Plead the Fifth” sees the outfit channel their inner Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Meanwhile, “Take It All” quivers with the dramatic styles of The Verve.
There is still exhilaration and urgency in the band’s music, such as the crushing opener, “Hurrah” and the sinister and seismic “Catch It”. These tunes, however, are no longer the star attractions, but they are part of a collection of immaculate artistry. The entire album, as such, reveals a band that have realized the immense promise they showed nearly a decade ago. That their talents are not just beyondless but boundless. As we’ve said before, the Iceage era has fully arrived.
Iceage are Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals/lyrics), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), and Johan Wieth (guitar).
Beyondless is available everywhere via Matador Records.
To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.
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