Review: Iceage – ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’

iceageWith ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’ it is a sure thing these post-punks Iceage have discovered a soft-spot for writing love songs that come with as much beast as they do beauty.

The engine is running fast, with enough horsepower to out-race any strike of lightning, adding some surreal starkness to an album that is prepared to do nothing but impress, enveloping tunes with one finger dipped in the liquefied goodness of the late seventies and the other firmly pointed elsewhere, potentially the future.

Opener ‘On My Fingers’ sets the tone, never weakening its will to cross the finish line despite being an embodiment of how we hate everyone when facing a monumental hangover. Slowly churning forward it moans with vocals sedated to near death rather than an overwhelming sleepiness, always providing some extra effort to the most rude and intrusive of actions. Guitars are on the prowl like some wild panther stalking the area for fresh meat to pick on, drums pounding like a march of the dead and a cold piano jumble of notes that tumble forward with a menacing gyration.

The Lord’s Favourite’ is additional strangeness, full of boogie and bounce, skipping along to a waltzing drum-beat. The vocals are still lethargic and ‘weak’, but only inject further energy into the tune; upbeat is hardly the word, but magical, dreamy and pleasant all apply thanks to the fervent activity which adrenalises these songs.

It is ‘How Many’ that returns to the doom and gloom perhaps many would associate with the band. Restless, reckless and rebellious, the guitars peel themselves away from the surface, twisting and turning to an old TV tuned to static but still screaming with powerful melody. The biting grunts give off enough heat to melt an ice statue, capturing the raw nature of love in its most erotic and passionate moods. Indeed, maybe the one thing to take from this album is the band’s ability to create ballads; ballads of blood and lust, loss and seedy secrets that at face value appear too grotesque to be attached to the terms of love.

Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled’ constantly shifts time-signatures, returning back and forth to slow and fast as a demonic song is snarled rather than sung above scratches of noise, a lonely brass-band blaring, lifting the song to another level of greatness and intelligent bravado. Is it rock’n’roll, post-punk, jazz, classical or just simply noise? It’s hard to pinpoint a particular musical genre and defy the sounds here that crawl on all fours out of the speakers. The attitude of ‘Stay’ rushes with a supreme plod and progresses into a dreamland of madness and menace that suggest rock n roll, but the stabbing string sections and monstrous vocal eruptions suggest something else all together – torn and torturous, wild and walking in a wilderness.

Let It Vanish’ marches along to a militant bass line, lockstep and looking nowhere but forward. Further recitations of love’s fucked up laments howl over a track dark enough to disturb any passer-by and fool them into thinking love was all sunshine and chocolates. It can be as mutated and mutilated as ‘Abundant Living’, which sways and swings above gravity’s heavy weights with metallic guitars and funky piano undertones.

These are the tainted tales of romance behind closed doors. The self-destructive appetites that dictate us into doing utterly daft things for the sake of saving our other half. The songs walk with confidence to the blues, a boozy strut of sexiness, parading devilish instincts. The horror show setting of ‘Against The Moon’ depicts the sleazy scumbags that scour late night New York, a time for hard drugs and slow songs when the heart has been badly broken.

These are the connotations of the songs; the shattered glass walls of noise and white feedback, the weird religious undertones combining poetry and insanity that lace tight the songs’ loose structures and snaking instrumentation into one bundle of raging purity.

And it works a treat – punk does exist after all.

(Ryan Walker)

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