With every bit of interview footage featuring the members of Denmark’s Iceage, from a cable access children’s dance show to a rare toned-down Nardwuar interview, there seems to be a fair amount of apathy displayed by the band, specifically blank-faced frontman Elias Bender Ronnenfelt. I think it’s safe to say that their lack of interest in promotional obligations can be attributed to the fact that they aren’t too interested in anything at the moment besides the music they put out and performing at their much buzzed-about live shows. The ferocity that personified Iceage’s debut album New Brigade and the cacophonous mini riots that ensued came at a perfect time for many disinterested indie music listeners, disgruntled by the lack of prompt intensity in many young bands. These same New Brigade admirers need not worry, as You’re Nothing provides the same and more.
We learn early on in You’re Nothing, Iceage’s second full length, that Elias Ronnenfelt has not mellowed much since his band’s abrasive first album. He and his bandmates have, however, evolved their in your face hardcore, post-punk sound in a more emotional and refined way, without losing any bite. Incorporating ambient breaks and even an affecting piano-laden track (“Morals”), it’s clear that Iceage aren’t fearful of straying from their comfort zone. The stellar opening two tracks, “Ecstasy” and “Coalition”, deliver on the group’s reputation for chugging two minute bursts of pure joy, each highlighted with one blaring exclamatory statement, pressure and excess, respectively. Ronnenfelt’s low register groans on “Burning Hand” melt into a more enraged version of a Sex Pistols chorus, while pop-influenced punk bands like Hüsker Dü and even Nirvana can be heard in Ronnenfelt’s vocal tendencies throughout.
While Ronnenfelt’s David Yow-esque sing-scream vocals dominate many of the songs on this record, it is centrepiece “Morals” that shows that Iceage are not simply a punk band from Denmark, but an engaging and emotive group of still very young men focused on their craft. Impassioned singing over piano and a simple thumping bass show an impressive new side of the band. It is Iceage’s distinct uneasiness and concern that is the theme all over You’re Nothing, and these inner conflicts are easily identifiable to your every day Iceage fan. As long as the members of Iceage are still feeling as anxious and fed up as they sound, we’ll likely be hearing a lot more from them.