Iceage – ‘You’re Nothing’

“Iceage has proven themselves with a sophomore album that favors melody and restraint, and for a punk with their pedigree, the result is just what 2013 needs.”

Grafton Tanner

out of 10

You're Nothing
February 19th, 2013
Matador Records

Iceage’s You’re Nothing is an apt title for a punk band bent on revamping the past 30 years of hardcore music, but it’s also the kind of title that can clear the room of all manner of imposters.  The follow-up arrives two years after Iceage exploded out of Copenhagen with the fury of a well-made band of destruction.  2011’s New Brigade mixed punk, post-punk, hardcore, and no wave without ever sounding dated, trite, or pointless.  It established Iceage as the kind of punk band everyone needed – the breath of fresh air only a group of four teenagers could shovel down our throats.  And it also leveled just about every other punk band clamoring for the ears of the masses in an era just about as far away as can be from NYC noise, Black Flag, grit, destruction, mayhem.  Could we ever witness a punk rebirth?

Iceage leads such a rebirth and has spawned numerous other followers to step up, most notably Lower and Vår (both sharing members of Iceage).  You’re Nothing is a half-hour of pummeling punk with the spirit for restless adventure.  From the opener “Ecstasy,” it is apparent Iceage has sharpened their sound without sacrificing any of the brutality they unloaded on New Brigade.  It is also apparent these guys are expert instrumentalists, something for which I can personally vouch after seeing them perform live.  Both “Interlude” and “Morals” are testaments to Iceage’s keen musical touch – they can shape noise and melody with the finesse of true musicians and the PSI of a jet cutter.  The latter song is particularly interesting because it combines so many disparate elements and strings them together with the structure and chord progression of a singer-songwriter’s standard.  When the chorus kicks in at high speed, the song takes on an urgent, horrifying guise.  “Where’s your morals?” Elias Bender Rønnenfelt shouts, and then the song slowly marches itself into silence.

Iceage - Anton Rothstein

Iceage – Anton Rothstein

What is so striking about You’re Nothing is that it presents songs that are as raw as they are streamlined and confident.  Youth has nothing to do with it.  There are moments of total frenzy, such as in “It Might Hit First,” and coupled with these are epic rock-outs that separate Iceage from any general wave of punk.  I’m thinking specifically of “Awake,” with its sharp guitars and restrained singing.  By the time Rønnenfelt begins his spoken word vamp over a huge crescendo complete with the sound of a shattered window, I feel as if I’m no longer listening to the same band that wrote “Broken Bone.”

Speaking of that song, You’re Nothing may best be remembered as the more self-aware Iceage record.  Freak-outs occur often here, but nothing like “Broken Bone” or “Collapse” shows up.  And rightfully so.  Iceage has proven themselves with a sophomore album that favors melody and restraint, and for a punk band with their pedigree, the result is just what 2013 needs.

Iceage will be playing at The Earl in Atlanta, Georgia on June 9th. Don’t miss.

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