Some traditions are born quickly. What about the one where we vow to cold-shoulder the new album of the dubious Danish post-punks Iceage and it still ends up in our year-end list. Last year we had to admit at the last minute that You’re Nothing was nailing, exposing a refined sense of melody, without in any way compromising its rawness and anguish. Iceage ‘can slow down the pace way below punk standards and even throw in a piano and the result is no less ominous.‘ we wrote about a year ago. With Plowing Into The Field Of Love they take doom to the next level, proving that they can even take an ebullient and lively genre like rockabilly and turn into music that would have Johnny Cash turn in is grave. I’m talking, of course, about the band’s self-celebrating drinking single The Lord’s Favorite. A rambunctious break of style that is executed with such confidence and poignancy, it’s thrilling. The song is the highest peak between slightly lower peaks, each of which protruding proudly above the clouds that separate Iceage from post-punk’s mortals.
As Iceage stray further from post-punk’s mandatory forms with each album, the effect is increasingly disorienting. “We have this way of playing together that doesn’t really leave us with any choice: Like we are on the verge of falling to pieces.” singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt explained on the release date of Plowing Into The Field Of Love. The album title reflects the way the band diligently murder their own melodic delights, with Rønnenfelt’s atonal growl either lagging behind or rushing in front of the music. Amid the cacophony it’s the small details that emphasize the beauty in decay. For instance, the melancholic piano chords and surprising percussion on How Many, the moody organ on the Nick Cavish goth-Ballad Stay and the fiddle-picking on another great drinking song titled Abundant Living, on which Rønnenfelt sounds a lot like The Pogues Shane MacGowan. Perhaps the most surprising song on Plowing Into The Field Of Love is Against The Moon, an unambiguously majestic croon song, with Rønnenfelt almost conforming against a background of rueful brass: thrilling. Ice would be disgusted if they find out that they are part of a tradition, but then disgust is their muse.