review

iceage

beyondless

Released: 4th May

The first trio of albums from Denmark’s Iceage came in quick succession earlier this decade, but their fourth album has taken its time. Whether it’s the downtime, the influence of side-projects such as Marching Church or just dumb luck, but Beyondless is their finest album so far.

While 2014’s Plowing Into The Field Of Love found the band expanding into country and more, Beyondless steps back from the brink of accessibility – at times it’s the most airless and violent the band have sounded. Hurrah bursts out of the gate like Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth, as singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt chants of “dancing to the sound of the enemy’s guns”. Elsewhere, the quartet take on the classic-rock influence of The Rolling StonesExile On Main Street on the savage The Day The Music Dies, but a little of Pussy Galore’s own white-noise version of that album bleeds in.

Showtime, meanwhile, dallies with a vaudeville jive, but this isn’t a stadium anthem, more a chronicle of an onstage suicide: “In the roaring applause, a pistol he draws/And blows his brains all over the stage.”

The title track is a wracked ballad, but it’s a ballad Iceage-style, with blown-out guitars and the hiss of a hi-hat shrouded around the tender, high piano notes and Rønnenfelt’s wracked voice. Maybe finest of all, though, is Catch It, a grinding mid-tempo masterpiece. Whether it’s a love song, or the complete opposite, it finds the singer calling for the narrator to “reel it in, then you catch it, catch it, catch it…”

While their influences – hardcore and post-punk to start with, Nick Cave and The Pogues later – were once positioned on their artfully creased sleeves, with Beyondless Iceage have transcended their inspirations and created something that is, bloodily, theirs alone.

Tom Pinnock


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