Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Iceage : "Plowing the Fields of Love"

The opener proves the rate of growth from this band has accelerated tremendously since their last album "You're Nothing". It's a much wider leap forward from  "You're Nothing" to "Plowing the Fields of Love" than it was from their first album to "You're Nothing". They still bang into their instruments with a drunken clamor, the sounds are warmer crisper and coming from a wider range of places.

Vocalist Elias Ronnenfelt comes much closer to actually becoming a singer, his voice carries a huskier tone with melodies drifting towards almost a darker Americana tone like Nick Cave. There is still his trademark slurred moan to the vocals , He sounds more adept at singing in English now. The approach to the vocals is similar to their approach on all other aspects of this album in the fact it's more maturely crafted.Still punk in the way New Model Army held on to their roots, the country element to the first single "Lord's Favorite" stands out almost jarringly if you were to listen to this album right after listening to "You're Nothing". My first listens had me thinking they sounded almost like an entirely different band, but after repeat listens I began to hear where their sound was still intact despite the sonic re-modelling.

The guitar is more intricately picked than what we have heard from the band before on "How Many". The addition of piano parts not only adds a more melodic element , but does so in a way that adds to the drunken chaos the band is know for. The darker element the band has held as a under current takes a bigger role on "Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled ". The guitar tone now includes cleaner strummed passages , more like Cult of Youth, so this discards the more jagged jangle of the first album. The inclusion of instruments like the trumpet here also draw more comparisons to Cult of Youth.

Ronnenfelt's voice shows it's range expanding on the lower end of his register on the ballad like "Stay".The post- punk element is set against this more organic turn, the stark tension is captured with the opening bass line to "Let it Vanish" before the band throws a rambling barrage of guitars at you. Even when the band builds up into faster section, they don't default into the brainless one, two, three beat of punk.There are still noisy elements but never do they not serve the song. They even take a more rock n roll approach to "Abundant Living", that finds a stomp that slightly echoes Led Zeppelin's "Bring it on Home". The title track that closes the album also has a more rock n roll feel along the lines of the Rolling Stones.

The more Nick Cave elements surface again in the brooding swell of "Forever". The strings that come into the songs middle section add a darkly romantic ambiance to the seething build that is held at bay."Cimmerian Shade" gets even darker in it's pounding march .Elias' raw voice takes on  more of a choked growl.This is contrasted against the tenderer sentiment of "Against the Moon", that feel more like an interlude than a fully developed song. "Simony" makes up for this carrying both snarl and a reflective nature to it's emotional depth.

This is one of the most creative albums to come this year and it's a must for fans of punk or post-punk or rawer experimental rock n roll. It's easy for me to give this one a ten. This is the album I could tell this band had in them even it meant totally abandoning the colder more Joy Division like direction they could have taken instead. It will be interesting to see how these songs are pulled off live.

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