The new album from Iceage, Beyondless, out tomorrow via Matador Records, is the sort of record for people who'd normally reach for an Interpol one, or, better still, a Joy Division LP. The album, the Danish band's fourth, is a release that's at times easier to admire than it is to love. Still, there's something here that catches fire, and the band at least suggests an approach near something marginally dangerous in certain moments.
A track like "Catch It" brims with the sort of lugubriousness that one once found on Crime and the City Solution offerings, while the more successful "The Day The Music Dies" blends a dash of early Birthday Party with the sort of modern indie-pop that bands like Editors and Interpol once rode into the sun. If Iceage are better at making this sound a tiny bit unhinged, I would say that that's a good thing. The players here, wisely, pour their souls into lots of this, and numbers like "Take It All" and "Plead The Fifth" make one think of stuff from The Gun Club updated for a new century, the messy edges now smooth as the vocals lead us to the edge of a cliff. Elsewhere, the excellent "Pain Killer" pushes the throttle into the red, and adds vocals from Sky Ferreira to the chaotic and careening sound of the band. The effect is very nearly hypnotic and one finds a new reserve of tolerance for this sort of very emotional, very disheveled brand of throb-rock. Hearing bits of this, a listener could be forgiven for thinking that it was 1990 again, or even 1995, and while that sounds like a backhanded compliment, at least this lot cares enough to pour some passion into their pop.
[Photo: Steve Gullick]