Album Review

You're Nothing

You're Nothing

by Iceage

8 / 10
26th March 2013

Reviewed by Vincent Michaelsen

Two years ago, Iceage released their fierce debut New Brigade to a not-so-small fanfare of international acclaim. The album was recorded in four days; they were on the cusp of leaving high school and already publicly labeled as angry and anxious “bullies”. Since then the band has signed to Matador Records, been touted as the “saviours of punk” and accused by a portion of the internet for entertaining fascist sentiments. While such claims are toyed with all too often, it seems clear that these notoriously tight-lipped interviewees care for little more than the music they’re making, whether you’re listening or not.

Iceage’s latest work You’re Nothing is blistering in comparison to the band’s debut. New Brigade saw the band finding their feet, working with mixed aesthetics and making something their own from it; You’re Nothing feels simplified and better established. Take ‘Ecstasy’, the album’s first single and opening track. Elias Rønnenfelt enters the fray seemingly already out of breath, though cool and nonchalant while the rest of the band races on at double speed. The lack of any real vocal melody in verses is what really makes the song. It’s unassuming and restrained, yet there’s something in there to keep you listening back again but distant enough not to grow tired of. Rønnenfelt seems to stumble through the over-filled lines of the verses without too much concern over whether you’ve caught them or not. “Adorned in carnal ecstasy...A mere blow of wind could turn me into light” - the lyrics of the track are poetic when audible and less aggressive than the band’s reputation might have you assume. The track goes out to a Horrors styled guitar riff, and though nearly hidden under the heavy rumble of distortion, it shows its face throughout the album to good effect.

‘Coalition’ flows seamlessly on from ‘Ecstasy’ and is another of the album’s best tracks. While the tracks title would seem to refer to political allegiance, the lyrics relate to a personal relationship - sex as coalition? I don’t think they’re that cold, just good with words. Rønnenfelt's screaming of “Excess” marks an early peak in the album’s carnage and would no doubt be a brutal crowd pleaser. ‘Morals’, a ballad of sorts midway through the album, is one of the more interesting tracks on the album. The thumping bass, discordant piano and vulnerable vocals is a little reminiscent of The Birthday Party/early Nick Cave. Much like the album’s title, one wonders whether Rønnenfelt's question of "Where's your morals?" is directed inward or outward. It's probably not going to be every Iceage fan’s favourite track but it breaks up the sometimes-monotonous drone of the record and shows the group progressing beyond normalised genre boundaries. While the album can be congratulated for it’s solid consistency, this is also its downside. At 28 minutes, You’re Nothing is barely sprawling, but if distracted, the second half of the album already begins to become a distorted blur of raging 1-3 minute segments.

It’s not rare these days to find bands elevated to almost mythical status through a couple of obscure blog posts or a poorly recorded YouTube clips. Not that Iceage’s success has specifically relied on either of those, but the band has seen its fair share of hype. You’re Nothing does well to confirm the band’s station.

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