Diversity is one hell of a technique, and one that can make or break a band. If a group stays with the same sound for their whole career, fans are bound to become displeased at some point when each pointlessly repetitive album is released. This is not to say that bad things don’t come up when a band makes the effort to change their once great sound into something utterly dreadful. With their newest record, Plowing Into the Field of Love, post-punk band Iceage decides to take the plunge of really changing and advancing their formula. The question is, did this big risk pay off?
First thing first is the band’s core sound, or what they are known for. As previously stated, they are known as a post-punk band. Instrumentally on this record, it feels like they took a more post-rock direction, as they do not have very much aggression in their guitar, bass, and drums. The playing of these four instruments is no less disappointing. For example, the closing track “Plowing into the Field of Love” is a really good showcase of the guitar taking lead as it plays some somber riffs and chords to create the mood of the song. The drums and bass don’t really stand out or take the lead, but that’s not a bad thing considering they are the support (and what a hell of a job they do supporting on the song “The Lord’s Favorite”).
The most blaringly unique feature of Iceage’s core sound is Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vocals. Rønnenfelt sings almost like he was told very depressing news, like he picked up the mic right after his significant other cheated on him and then he decided to run a marathon. His voice just sounds so exhausted as he sighs through all of these lyrics in his low-pitched voice that is even off key a majority of times. This vocal delivery is on the border of being really bad, but Rønnenfelt manages to make it sound so good.
In order to create climaxes/high points on this record without the use of sheer aggression, the band pull some other tricks out of their sleeve. One prominent example is the addition of other instruments, like a piano, horns, violins, and even what sounds like a mandolin on the song “Abundant Living”. For instance, the end of the track “Forever” is clearly where the band intended to create the highpoint of the song. Instead of playing louder, Iceage creates more layers, utilizing the piano and horns to create an epic wall of sound, making the ending so very satisfying.
Another trick the band uses to freshen up their sound is changing genres up a bit and welcoming any influence the track may call for. Most notably is the second track, “The Lord’s Favorite”. Right away we are introduced to a rockabilly/country song which really scared a lot of Iceage fans into thinking they went country, considering the song is one of the lead singles. Despite the complete 180 the band took, this track still sounds like good ‘ol Iceage.
With this new record, it is evident that Iceage made an effort to enhance their sound. They took a shot in the dark and it paid off in the long run. Including different genres and a healthy dose of different instruments helped elevate the band to new heights, thereby raising the question of where Iceage will go from here.
Tracks worth checking out: “On My Fingers”, “The Lord’s Favorite”, “How Many”, “Abundant Living”, “Plowing into the Fields of Love”.