Sunday, June 26, 2011

Iceage: "New Brigade" — Refreshments, B+

Thinking about Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols evokes just about the right spark of debut familiarity before popping in latest Copenhagen-import Iceage. A post-punk band of adolescents (ages 18-20), Iceage stands as a refreshing breath of punk aesthetic that’s almost palette-cleansing to an era soaked with looped samples and abused auto-tuning. And with the arrival of their debut New Brigade state-side, the band offers up a very earnest and promising introduction to the new world.

With the back-to-basics approach of working and piecing together songs simply by playing with each other, Iceage has shaped together a remarkable number of taught, captivating songs. Despite the break-neck pace they play, there's still a clear precision that goes with each blitzing riff; every guitar hook and chorus chugs along until the very first hint of boredom, and then — wham! — the band descends into a whole new section of music, which is one of the reasons New Brigade is so enthralling; it has absolutely no filler. There’s always something new just waiting around the corner.

But don’t be misconceived that New Brigade is simply a wall of bombardment racing to the finish; there is an element of that to the music, but it’s mostly just Iceage’s well-placed hesitance to avoid overplaying hooks. Instead, Iceage teases brilliantly addictive hooks (“Broken Bone”, “White Rune”) with gushes of brevity, which plays out as a particularly smart move in the track’s ability to pull the audience for listen after listen.

Once the last notes of the album finale and standout “You’re Blessed” fades out, there are two instincts that echo through the listeners head. The first is to start the album over. The second is potential — raw, unabashed potential. While New Brigade sounds and acts like its own unique brute, the resonance reveals something indicative to an early Replacements record — something fast and loud, but still possessing meaning. There’s a rare integrity to the music Iceage creates, and it makes the future look very bright not just for the members themselves, but for the future of music. Who knows, maybe they’ll even make the next Let It Be.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Here Comes A Regular - The Replacements)

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