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Iceage frontman Elias Ronnenfelt has long been considered stony. The frontman of this Danish alternative/post-punk outfit has copped a lot of flack over the years for being difficult, but on the band’s newest LP, it becomes clear that he’s not totally opposed to showing feeling; he’s just not overly interested in anything that isn’t meaningful.
On their latest offering ‘Beyondless‘, Iceage paints a portrait of vices that have plagued humanity throughout our entire history – violence, addiction, empty love – rather than bothering with the irrelevant details that plague only our current 2018 context. In doing so, they’ve propped up universal emotions that are timeless, constructing stories that express them in front of a musical background that combines the best of previous successes ‘Plowing Into the Field of Love‘, ‘You’re Nothing‘ as well as ‘New Brigade‘.
Iceage demand a smart audience (though you don’t need a high IQ to understand them), evoking transcendent themes like man’s instinct to violence even on first song ‘Hurrah‘, as Ronnenfelt toys with how even a peaceful “flagless” man would “kill to outlast”. It sounds like their former, purer punk selves but delivered with far more clarity and structure. Uncharacteristically of the group, it even has an actual chorus too. Ronnenfelt’s lyrical and thematic attention eventually swings towards religious imagery, namely on ‘Under the Sun‘, a song referencing the story of Cain as orchestral instruments dip in and out for solid solo features.
Throughout ‘Beyondless‘, there are times when Iceage’s infamous singer plays the observer, but there are also times when he turns the lens on himself. Though removed in its Vaudevillian-themed delivery, ‘Showtime‘ tells the tale of a “bright young singer” that self-destructs, veiling Ronnenfelt’s struggle with the stage in metaphor and theatrics. Fame isn’t the only personal battle on the record, with love playing a leading part to boot. Ronnenfelt begs desperately for a confirmation of it on ‘Catch It‘, while titular track ‘Beyondless‘ is almost responsive as it turns the tables, featuring a narrator that refuses to offer any love at all. Despite the fact that even with the addition of girlfriend Sky Ferreira on ‘Pain Killer‘, Ronnenfelt seems to be in his own life finally content. Especially with wanton ballads like ‘Take It All‘ adding further complexity to the reality of the heart, tambourine and all.
It has been a pleasure to watch Iceage grow up. It has been a pleasure to see a writer like Ronnenfelt cry about being hungry for love and then having found it, with the way he expresses such battles like that and everything else on his mind so unlike much else available to our ears right now. With ‘Beyondless’ bringing a combination of the showmanship of ‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’ and the fearlessness of ‘You’re Nothing’, Iceage have created a new offering that’s the same in all the ways that count. The Danish outfit may be better at playing their instruments, with a slightly more articulate singer, but let us all hope that Ronnenfelt never loses his unmistakably charming slur.
2. Pain Killer
3. Under the Sun
4. The Day the Music Dies
5. Plead the Fifth
6. Catch It
7. Thieves Like Us
8. Take It All
‘Beyondless’ is out now.