For Fans Of
Iceage are a perplexing and riveting revelation for anyone who hasn’t come across them, and for those who have, their releases are akin to a post-punk, grunge lover’s Christmas time. Instantly polarising or magnetic, depending on how you receive the Danish punk rock act, Plowing Into the Field of Love is anything but boring, and for that, we love them.
‘On My Fingers’ wastes little time in asserting the animalistic tendencies of this record. You could be forgiven for mistaking the groans and moans of Iceage’s enigmatic leading man, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, for anything other than music, but on Plowing Into the Field of Love, the boundaries of the ordinary are momentarily flung out the window. Hallow and haunting piano ballads underscore an estranged percussion ensemble, like a reassuring constant making sense of all the nonsense, as the manic and erratic movements of Ronnenfelt’s vocals throws off any equilibrium you may have felt.
On ‘The Lord’s Favorite,’ and later on ‘Forever‘ it seems that Ronnenfelt may very well be Alex Turner’s evil alter ego, and indeed, if Turner nurtured a more guttural, feverish quality against the kind of sultry slur and mumble that the two singers oddly share, Iceage’s disorienting vocal convolutions may very well be the result. As a result, the single, with its flat, disjunctive melodies and its weakly churned country-esque jungles, is a heady and ephemeral experience.
At times Plowing Into The Field of Love seems to be a compilation of utter nonsense: from the strange, intermittent coughing on ‘How Many’ to the arbitrary and nonsensical (but welcome) addition of the trumpet on ‘Glass Eyed, Dormant and Veiled’ and ‘Forever.’ Those who enjoy comparing things to other things have been eager to equate Iceage to The Smiths, Nick Cave and Joy Division, to name a few pre-punk and post-something bands, but the truth is, they’re kidding themselves. Iceage may be enduring, repellant and filthy, but if there’s one thing they’re not, it’s similar.
The very beginnings of ‘Stay’ expose the imaginative capabilities of Iceage, who evoke a vast landscape of narrative and emotion through their vocal and instrumental exercises alone. The crashing of cymbals, the burgeoning percussion and the subtle instrumental textures conjured by the twang and bite of the guitars, commanded by the extensive emotive range of Ronnenfelt, finds that midway point between serenity and chaos. Indeed, on ‘Abundant Living’ the band makes a mess of sound, but in doing so, transcends any notion of ‘rules’ that they may otherwise be tied down by.
Embracing a fuller bodied vocal throttle on ‘Against the Moon,’ Iceage find their romantic streak amongst a potent cloud of ominous piano chords and operative percussion, that seem to trudge along to the sluggish rhythm of Ronnonfelt’s imperious vocal performance.
Indeed, by the end of the album, where the title track makes its much-anticipated debut, Iceage have made a visceral, militant and dare we say, unforgettable impression. Acting as the substance of a kind of anti-harmony, Plowing into the Field of Love is a record to write home about, regardless of whether you loved it or hated it.
1 On My Fingers
2 The Lord’s Favorite
3 How Many
4 Glassy Eyed, Dormant And Veiled
6 Let It Vanish
7 Abundant Living
9 Cimmerian Shade
10 Against The Moon
12 Plowing into the Field of Love