While Denmark might not be known as a goldmine for producing great punk bands, if you’ve been reading the music press in recent months the chances are you may have come across Iceage. Rumblings of this Copenhagen band’s debut record reached the UK at the beginning of the year, as its initial release was picked up by a number of tastemaking blogs and championed in Noel Gardener’s superb punk column over at The Quietus. In his column, Gardener describes the record as ‘basically, perfect’ and ‘one of the best punk rock records released in recent years’, and I would be hard pushed to disagree.
Given that the history of punk has been mined so many times, it’s difficult to make a record that sounds like nothing else around it. Look around at contemporary punk music and you’ll find variations of Black Flag, variations of Fugazi and variations of Wire, but every once in a while something will be released that sounds completely pure. Not that the album doesn’t draw heavily from post punk influences, but everything is so right about this recording, from the songs to the production, that it manages to distinguish itself among any number of copyist acts. It’ll be interesting to see whether this album is a one-off fluke, but New Brigade captures the essence of what makes punk so damn exciting in the first place.
It’s scrappy, energetic production makes it easy to imagine in a live setting, barely held together on record you can only imagine things intensifying at shows. The guitars clatter against each other, almost lost in the muddle of noise, before being dragged out by some hook that comes out of nowhere. While this doesn’t sound like a record made for anyone other than the band themselves, there are standout tracks (‘White Rune’, ‘New Brigade’, ‘Broken Bone’) with choruses that will bounce around your head for days. Albeit sung in singer Elias Rønnenfelt’s signature sluggish drawl. While the band certainly aren’t scared to thrash out a minute long punk jam, their perhaps at their best when these bursts of near-melody jump out completely unexpectedly.
The early excitement Iceage picked up has quickly multiplied in recent months. With a US release for New Brigade on Dais, at the time of writing the band is currently embarking on a full tour of the states. Whether or not they can maintain the often fleeting attention of the modern indie press remains to be seen, but for now we’re just glad to see this record being noticed. A proper punk record from an exciting new talent.
Video – New Brigade