Iceage: You’re Nothing Review (Three Takes)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are three reactions, three impressions, Three Takes on You’re Nothing by Iceage. (From the same three dudes that covered their first LP!)
Howard Hamilton (Prissy Clerks)
I absolutely love Iceage’s first record New Brigade it set a really high bar, I was incredibly excited to hear a new record was about to come out and on Matador this time. The new record You’re nothing is a fine attempt at growth as a and, I really like it but it doesn’t force you to immediately start it over and over after the last song like New Brigade did but that only happens once in a Bee Thousand anyway. These young guys try this time for a bigger production but retain their shitty guitars creating quite a cocktail. The singer sounds more hoarse and more monster-like this time around also, I can even imagine them telling him to go run around the block then we will hit record on the vocal rack. He is so out of breath it’s almost too much, huffing and puffing, stuffed up and with a lozenge in his cheek you can hear the tar in his lungs. Surprisingly you can hear the lyrics a lot more on You’re Nothing and I am not one undred percent that that’s a great thing. Sometimes the words teeter on pretentiousness but just as I pick up my mallet ready to hit the giant gong they redeem or I forget the stupid youthful fake violence act they wish they could pull off. Don’t get me wrong these guys are a great great band and this album is almost a sure thing, some fans disagree and are hating this offering but with amazing songs like “Morals” and “Ecstacy” and “Coalition” you really can’t go too wrong. These guys are the big dumb puppy that ends up saving your life, highly original and on a creative level like no other band in their genre.
I have always been a bit puzzled about Iceage. It’s not that I don’t think the Danish punks are good – they are. I just don’t see what really sets them apart from legions of other similarly minded punk bands that are just as talented but don’t get any recognition. Its as if the music media community held a lottery of all of these bands and decided that they would all get behind whoever won – and the Danes were drawn at random.
The band’s newest album You’re Nothing, is pretty good collection of noisy, aggressive post-punk/hardcore tunes. It sounds sloppy without actually being sloppy, and lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s Joe-Strummer-esque scream pulsates with intense disdain. Perhaps I am just not great at picking out the nuances of this genre of music but to my ears, it sounds really good, if not exactly revolutionary.
Seeing Iceage a few years back at the Triple Rock I came away with the impression that the band generally makes up for lack of originality by dialing the energy up to extremes. I still kind of feel that way. In addition to the energy though, with You’re Nothing, Iceage adds in a more mature element of heftier songs and a kind of darker vibe. It sounds really good, though I still would probably be more impressed if they attempted to color a bit more outside the lines.
As I wrote before, as the Iceage bandwagon plows forward, the band seem primed to be cast as the punk/hardcore version of Vampire Weekend, a band heaped with praise and adulation from the musical powers-that-be in a way that invokes backlash. This is too bad, because like their spirited and scrappy debut New Brigade, their sophomore LP You’re Nothing is another firecracker of an album. Stretching 12 songs over 28 tense and pummeling minutes, the record both continues the things that got them attention initially while growing and expanding beyond the boundaries set by their debut. From the mixed up time signatures of “Ecstasy” to the punch you in the face intensity of “It Might Hit First,” You’re Nothing is every bit as confrontational as their debut, even as it has a more full and developed sound. The bands growing maturity (they are still early 20’s!) is seen on tracks like “Coalition” and “Everything Drift’s,” which clean up the sound a bit and brings the vocals more clearly to the front, and also the quasi balled “Morals,” which is basically a Billy Joel track compared with some of their other work. Overall You’re Nothing is a solid step forward for the band. No, they may not change the world with this record (again), but it is still a damn good record and another example that this young band are, in fact, the real deal.