Danish post-punkers Iceage have always had a propensity for the chaotic. Their debut album New Brigade was an impressive collection of hectic post-punk tracks that certainly stood out amongst most other punk records of the time. Their second album, You’re Nothing built upon the well-established (and well-received) formula of their debut, with a few more well refined moments. However, there seemed to be no real significant progression in terms of the bands writing, and as such You’re Nothing fell short of many expectations. With the release of their third album Plowing Into The Field of Love, Iceage have truly silenced their critics with huge strides forward in songwriting, instrumentation, and vocals. Plowing paints the picture of a band that has matured beautifully, and progressed in the most amazing, natural way.
While the album features an intense range of new instrumentation (everything from mandolin to piano to glockenspiel), the most obvious shift is in frontman Elias Rønnenfelt’s lyrics and melodies. The band’s previous albums had Elias shouting, sometimes incomprehensibly, behind the assaulting sounds of the guitars and drums. However, on this record, Elias’ vocals are incredibly more pronounced, and his lyrics have improved immensely to become the center-piece of the album. “I always had the sense that I was split in two…if I could dive into the other like it was an ocean, caressed by its water, I’d lose myself forever” Elias sings on the album’s strongest and most beautifully dark track “Forever”. The song features Elias at his most exposed, with some of the most personal lyrics the frontman has ever written. In addition, his moaning melodies only add to the frustration and dismal attitude presented by the lyrics.
Plowing, however, is not just an album full of slow, crooning songs. The band harkens back to their earlier works with more aggressive songs such as “How Many” and “Abundant Living”, which feature Rønnenfelt growling and barking over the same abrasive instrumentation that the band has made a staple of their sound. This time, however, there are piano and trumpet parts thrown into the mix, adding to the beautiful controlled chaos of some of the albums faster tracks.
Perhaps the last thing many expected to hear from Iceage was a country tune, yet the album’s second song “The Lord’s Favorite” is just that. The song is aggressive and chaotic throughout but maintains a heavy country and rockabilly shuffle. The band put out a video for the song, which features the oh-so-dreamy Elias staring directly into the camera with a sort of swagger that is completely new, further defining his role as the band’s frontman. Check it out below:
Overall, the album maintains the bands hectic, abrasive tendencies but builds upon that sound in the most beautiful way possible. Front to back the album is intensely dark, intensely beautiful, and intensely heartfelt. Iceage have truly matured as a band, and this album serves as an example of that. From the instrumentation to Elias Rønnenfelt’s somber lyricism, this album stands as one of the best and most progressive punk albums of recent memory.