Iceage, ‘You’re Nothing’ – Album Review
Ever since punk began, bands have been firing off songs in two minutes or less that leave their instruments even more out of tune than they were when they started. Unless it’s the Stooges, in which case the occasional 10-minute dirge is acceptable, too. That’s just the way punk is.
From Black Flag to Minor Threat to any number of groups that have been influenced by the ‘80s hardcore giants, punk has always been a product of its time. That’s why each new generation offers its own, but still similar, take on the music. And that’s why punk hasn’t died off like other period genres from New Romanticism (‘80s) to grunge (‘90s) to dubstep (trust us – you’ll look back on this ’10s phenomenon with shame).
So here’s the thing about Iceage, the young Danish quartet that caused an online stir with their 2011 debut ‘New Brigade’: They’ve got all the punk moves down, from the hard/fast/loud songs that average about two minutes to the mandatory we-don’t-give-a-f— attitude, and they make a convincing case at times for their authenticity (a big deal among punk types). But their second album, ‘You’re Nothing,’ is missing something: genuine rage.
That’s not to say ‘You’re Nothing’ isn’t a loud, chaotic mess (we mean that as a compliment). There are plenty of detuned, distortion-packed guitars and sloppy playing all around. And the drummer can barely stay in time. But singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt constantly pulls and holds back from the larynx-shredding howls the music demands. His tossed-off vocals (we don’t mean that as a compliment) always seem at odds with the intense music surrounding him.
At least that music follows tradition. From the opening blitzkrieg ‘Ecstasy’ to ‘Morals’’ slow, druggy crawl to ‘Coalition’ — which is all pounding drums, full-speed-ahead guitar chords and a breathless turn by Rønnenfelt — ‘You’re Nothing’ pile-drives the noise at about 180mph. The dozen tracks take less than 30 minutes to get in and out of there, which is certainly punk. But there’s not much effort put into redrawing the template. That’s punk, too.