Iceage – Beyondless
- David Pollock
- 7 May 2018
Raucous and chaotic indie rock from the Copenhagen quartet
It's hard to cast an accurate judgement upon one of the rock groups of the moment when you listen to them and hear a fusion of the Happy Mondays in their earliest, most ramshackle days and Primal Scream at their most studiously lairy and DGAF. Certainly, singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt has much of Bobby Gillespie's bored sneer in his voice, while the music is raucous and chaotic indie rock of the kind which was largely the default sound of the 1990s and 2000s.
Yet the other thing which the Copenhagen quartet, now in their tenth year of existence, share with Primal Scream on their fourth studio album is a sense of defiant rebellion which bypasses the louche, hedonistic concerns of closer contemporaries like the Libertines and the Strokes, who appear almost bourgeois by comparison. 'We can't stop killing / and we'll never stop killing / and we shouldn't stop killing, hurrah,' sings Ronnenfelt on 'Hurrah', a disturbing – but sonically thrilling – ride inside the mind of a soldier.
Iceage have always cultivated a sense of edge, of danger, yet this time that's been pared back by a sound which appears ready for the mainstream and big festival stages. Ronnenfelt's lop-sided drawl aside, 'Pain Killer' crests upon a Manic Street Preachers guitar riff and exuberant horns; 'The Day the Music Dies' is big-stage emo rock; 'Plead the Fifth' swaggers straight out of the Noel Gallagher songbook, the page marked 'dustblown country rock with extra piano'.
There's a boozy ragtime feel to 'Thieves Like Us' and a sunkissed, shoegazing chime to 'Take It All', while the closing title track is a grizzled hymn to 21st century disaffection and disconnection. That the echoes of the past are to the forefront in this very male music isn't so much the point, as the fact that its sense of vitality and strongly-felt but brittle emotion is something mainstream guitar rock hasn't achieved in a while.
Out 4 May on Matador.