Iceage holds nothing back on sophomore album

Kate Clark

It may come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with Iceage’s previous work, but in their latest album, “You’re Nothing,” which came out on Tuesday, Feb. 19, it doesn’t sound like singer Elias Rønnenfelt is shouting a garbled foreign language over a mouthful of blood.

In fact, half the time the lyrics are distinctly English, other times Rønnenfelt’s accent makes it sound like he’s attempting to enunciate a keyboard smash. Created in Copenhagen, Denmark, where they are signed to Tambourhinoceros, Iceage is actively engaged in the city’s scene with its members involved on other musical acts such as Vår and Marching Band.

Debut “New Brigade,” which made it stateside with label What’s Your Rupture?, came out in January 2011 to a fair amount of attention and acclaim.

A brash mess of noise that one wouldn’t expect from a group headed by a clean-shaven Andrew VanWyngarden look-a-like, “New Brigade” is the perfect soundtrack for reckless violence and destruction. Take the fact that nearly all shots of the band performing involve a bloody nose as proof.

“You’re Nothing,” released through Matador, remains true to the band’s style without so much white, teenaged male rage that was ever present on earlier releases. Overall, the sound is more mature, with most songs managing to make it past the 2:30 mark while collectively showing a wider variety in sound and style.

The album’s opening track and its most recent single, “Ecstasy,” is decent enough but has a cringeworthy chorus. But, if the five seconds of the word “pressure” being shouted repeatedly over a bass drum can be ignored, the reward is a nice little punk song.

“Coalition,” released as a single in mid-January, and “In Haze” are easily the standout tracks of the album. They are the raucous songs of “New Brigade” refined. Both tracks are long enough that one can determine if they enjoy the song or not before it has ended and lacking the overly muddled distortion that plagues the debut.

“Morals” and “Wounded Heart” prove they can do things other than thrash about on guitars. Ballad-esque “Morals” begins with controlled strums and piano before breaking out into a flurry of chords while Rønnenfelt questions, “Where’s your morals/ in this cursed land/ where Jesus hides?”

The catchiness of “Wounded Hearts” comes from its familiarity. While the rest of the album has the habit of spinning out of control, this is a track that loosely hangs on to some sort of format.

On “New Brigade,” even though the lyrics were indistinguishable, titles (i.e. “Broken Bone” and “Collapse”) alluded to what might have been listened to.

“It Might Hit First” gives a shout-out to this tactic because while there is no way anyone could make out the words, the title coupled with the songs beating drums and distorted guitars illicit that whatever it’s about isn’t too friendly. Actually, the lyrics feature crying and flowers but all things considered it probably euphuistic.

Speaking of impossible to understand songs, “Rodfaestet” is the only song where the excuse, “I have no idea what they’re saying so I’ll assume it’s Danish” is accurate.

In fact, a report back from a Danish speaker on whether or not they are anymore understandable in their native language would be much appreciated.

This record is definitely worth picking up for anyone looking for a stripped-down punk album.Whatever “You’re Nothing”  lacks in cohesiveness, it makes up for with attitude — and lots of it.