For all the lazy chatter about 'the death of rock', outsider guitar music is still thriving in the shadows. Sure, the Top Ten of late may look devoid of six-string slingers, but there's still a healthy scene fueled by feedback, battered books, and misfits with great hair. Helping keep the torch burning this past decade has been Iceage, a group of Danish record-obsessed schoolfriends who've been impressing fans and critics since day one with their ever-evolving brand of punk rock.
With over three years now since previous LP 'Plowing Into the Field of Love', fourth album 'Beyondless' sees a sonic leap for the band, one where grandeur and brass have meshed with the ferocity of old. It's a welcome change, one that shows a new level of maturity to the group's already stellar songwriting. Their enigmatic stomp has gained fresh clarity, with frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sounding like a slurring hyper-literate beast sent to make you think and as well as feel.
This more layered approach has definite echoes of The Bad Seeds and The Gun Club, a world conjuring vibe where the evenings seem long a more than a little dangerous. Despite this increasingly ear-pleasing approach, things never once feel pedestrian. Even the soul-indebted 'Pain Killer' featuring Sky Ferreira practically oozes temptation and regret, a celebratory doomed love song that you can shake your ass too. Elsewhere, a more back to basics approach can be found on highlight 'the day the music dies' a Stooges'esque kicker filled with talk of exorcisms and prayers. The stuff rock 'n' roll was made for.
Over its ten tracks, the band have impressively distilled what worked before and elevated it to a new level of complexity, following a course not too dissimilar to their post-punk heroes. A little more tonal variety along the way could help break up a slight sense of dirge fatigue, but it's a small gripe for an album that repeatedly hits its mark. Their most confident and assured release filled with the promise of things to come. One for you wicked souls out there.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart