[sic] Magazine

Iceage – Plowing Into The Field Of Love

Be careful what you wish for. What little complaint there’s been with Iceage’s hitherto explosive focus on post-punk and hardcore has focused on the Copenhagen band bringing little new to the table. Well, to their credit, the four-piece are branching out now, but Plowing Into The Field Of Love isn’t all roses. At nearly 50 minutes in length and exploring all that half an orchestra has to offer alongside the band’s normal set-up (see the stabbing viola and triumphant trumpets in “Forever”), Iceage are certainly casting off the shackles of their two previous LPs. All the same, 21-year-old firebrand Elias Bender Rønnenfelt shouldn’t be fronting forgettable tracks, particularly ones on the theme of single parents and abandonment such as “Glassy Eyed, Dormant And Veiled”.

Stripped of their most desperate misanthropy and fury what we’re left with is art-punk befitting the impeccable list of obscure and iconic influences Rønnenfelt fires off at any given opportunity. Yet Plowing The Field Of Love remains one of those impatient recipes where you try everything at once and, naturally, only some of it works. As a result, even in kill-mode, Iceage now seem blunted. “Simony”, for example, is closer to country-mates Lower than anything on New Brigade and tracks like “How Many” simply miss the trademark bite and bile. Just run these two cuts against the opening couplet on You’re Nothing for comparison.

There is, however, still fire in Rønnenfelt and co.’s eyes; it’s just that they’ve lost focus. The harmonies in the marauding “Let It Vanish” belie its fine drunken-punk finale, while the Pogues-indebted “The Lord’s Favorite” struggles with a very similar concept. Driven on by harsh snares and Rønnenfelt’s heavy breathing, the uncompromising Avant rumble “Cimmerian Shade” though is more like it. And then there’s the divisive – and toe-tapping! – “Abundant Living”, its playful rhythm drawn mercifully towards the shadows by Rønnenfelt’s slurred barbs. On top of such tracks he inevitably finds himself more exposed and compensates by causing an intentional stir. During the louche and loose “On My Fingers”, for example, he croaks like Nick Cave going through puberty, wild sax sparing some of his blushes. Then, on “Against The Moon”, which judging by the material is a title that ought to be prefaced by “pissing”, he tries a simmering late-night croon, a nagging piano refrain this time lending the endeavour a lot of credibility.

Ultimately Plowing The Field Of Love’s goal is commendable but its product is muddled. Bleak and yet showing streaks of artistic rebellion simultaneous with an glimpse or two of underbelly, it’s less the voyage into adulthood we might have expected and more of a delayed teenage blossoming.

Best tracks: “On My Fingers” and “Let It Vanish”.

~Plowing Into The Field Of Love is released October 6th 2014 on Matador.~