The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


You're Nothing Luke Turner , February 21st, 2013 11:53

Add your comment »

Punk band in suspected Nazi shocker! Where's the fascist behind your bed/hiding between How To Dress Well and Japandroids in your naughtily acquired iTunes library? The actions of some of Iceage's audience, their choice of imagery and rather awkward penchant for merch that features vicious looking knives are currently causing a bit of a stink online. Artists emerging from the hardcore scene (or indeed, most scenes that have at their heart abrasive noise) are wont to pursue imagery that many find unpalatable. Doesn't mean it's right, but it happens, and has done for decades. Iceage are also young men, and young men like to do things to provoke, shock, and generally set them apart from their elders and peers. I abhor much of the language used by Tyler, The Creator, but I don't feel it devalues his potential as an artist. What are you going to do, organise a Joy Division LP burning soundtracked by cockin' Foxygen?

So let's get on with it: Iceage's You're Nothing is one of the most exciting, open-minded pop punk (not THAT sort) albums I've heard in years. North American punk rock is currently in rude health, most obviously evidenced in crossover terms by Iceage's Matador labelmates Fucked Up. To me, though, Danish group Iceage are the superior, largely because of the defiantly European aesthetic that shines through their music. You couldn't really imagine these handsome young Danes in big shorts and tees or baggy jeans.

This is reflected in the way their music lets so much more in than the standard punk instrumentation, sonics and structures. One of the most interesting moments here is 'Interlude', which sounds like the soundtrack to the loading page of a military strategy game from the 1990s, all martial drums and metallic hiss. It's the most obvious point of comparison with Var, who share members with Iceage and whom we saw play a compelling set of Doomed Youth electronics at last year's Incubate festival. It lurches, rather brilliantly, into 'Burning Hand', a mixture of the angry and euphoric, with angry drum rolls pounding away beneath Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's leering vocal.

His presence is in part what makes Iceage so compelling. Fresh-faced, his thick voice always feels like a taunt - "where are your morals?" he asks at one point - caught somewhere on the threshold between manhood and adolescence. It helps that he has an equally smart band behind him. The drum fills (the drumming here is something else, like an angry speed-driven typewriter) and tightly wired guitar lines alternate and duet, with a trebly discord ringing out across nearly all the tracks. 'Ecstacy' has a vague resemblance to The Fall's 'Bingo Master's Breakout', but aside from that is a glorious, lurching, hormonal, uppity beast, the perfect way to start such a powerful, energetic record.

It's not just all amphetamine bluster though - somewhere in the fog of piano and static of 'Morals' is a very conventional pop song trying to get out. 'Wounded Hearts' reeling guitar comes after a singalong chorus. 'It Might Hit First' like much of You're Nothing sounds like Bauhaus in a cement mixer - never forget that at heart Iceage are goths. Unlike a lot of hardcore - especially the American sort - this is never overly macho in its sonics either. Perhaps it's just because I like looking at the pictures, but there's almost something rather homoerotic about You're Nothing, as if you're breathing in the heat of the room in which it was recorded. Twelve tracks, 28 minutes, no repetition, boundless energy: as 'In Haze' puts it rather nicely, "this is the speed of youth."

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

No Refugee
Feb 21, 2013 8:24pm

This. Could. Not. Kick more ass.

Reply to this Admin

Fielding Melish
Feb 21, 2013 10:28pm

Nice review, and I agree it's an often scorching record. While I am encouraged by much of what is coming out of the US of late (I realize IceAge is not from the US), it does seem fair to point out for my neighbors from the north that Fucked Up are, in fact, Canadian and not American.

Reply to this Admin

Luke Turner
Feb 22, 2013 9:42am

In reply to Fielding Melish:

*slaps forehead and apologises to the Canadian people*

Reply to this Admin

Feb 23, 2013 1:06pm

US punk rock in rude health? Try Hoax, Crazy Spirit, Hank Wood & The Hammerheads, Violent Reaction, Dawn of Humans, Altered Boys, Masakari, Birth Deformities, Double Negative, Goosebumps, Nuclear Spring, Wiccans...

Reply to this Admin

Feb 23, 2013 8:26pm

In reply to :

Yeah, you can't expect these blog writers who are constantly making references to 'the death of punk' to actually KNOW SOMETHING about punk, can you.

Reply to this Admin

Luke Turner
Feb 24, 2013 3:32pm

In reply to :

"rude health" means er in good health. Not it's rude and ill? eh?

Reply to this Admin

Stuart Gadd
Feb 25, 2013 1:51pm

Much of the coverage seems to have based around the perceived brutishness of the hardcore scene and distaste at that. What, you're nazi's and you're shit? How come those things have become conflated? But I guess there's a truth in there, better Hitler than Slowdive as Mr Edwards said. Iceage's aesthetic has been misreported but I'm not sure it's owt more than a genre record, maybe an interesting one

Reply to this Admin

Well, great
Feb 26, 2013 5:12am

Re: Tyler: I know this whole topic is a sad old hat, but somebody has to write in and say "easy for you to say." I know you're talking about his potential, which takes the edge off it. But right there next to it you're talking about how young men love to "provoke and shock," which I think wouldn't feel adequate to a lot of the dogs he's kicking. I think a lot of the response was frustration that JESUS it's women and gay people AGAIN, and why do only half the people give a shit? How is this so different from genuine Nazi talk?

Reply to this Admin

Feb 26, 2013 1:09pm

Christ, the comments section of the Quietus is going downhill

Reply to this Admin

Ted G
Mar 17, 2013 12:42am

Like this album a lot. Exciting stuff. Doesn't seem anything original but does sound fresh somehow. I like the drawl-y vocals. Very Richard Hell or Shane McGowan or even Jonathon Richman.

Reply to this Admin

Jun 21, 2013 8:24pm

In reply to :

Violent Reaction are from Liverpool, la.

Reply to this Admin

Concerned Citizen
Sep 23, 2013 2:39pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Luke, your point in re. "rude health" is well taken. Nonetheless, the poster of that message has a valid point. Not only is Fucked Up a Canadian band; but even if they were American, it is specious to judge the health of American's punk rock scene on the basis of an indie-crossover band. The anonymous poster mentioned just a few of the vital, interesting bands that have emerged from the U.S. punk underground in the past three or four years. That's like saying, "European EDM is in rude health, as evidenced by Daft Punk." As a music critic writing about punk, it wouldn't hurt to do just a bit more research into the genre you are discussing. If the names mentioned strike you as "obscure," I would say simply that these days "obscurity" means simply "something one personally hasn't heard of."

Reply to this Admin

Dec 10, 2013 10:19am

"Most OBVIOUSLY evidenced in CROSSOVER terms by Fucked Up" - The writer was intentionally using the most obvious example. We could be here all day listing how many obscure punk bands we've heard of so that we can be the coolest dude in a big show-off circle jerk, but the article would be unreadable. Well done youse guyzes, you can name check some bands and use it as a way to suggest the writer knows less than you. Where's your article? Use your head. Get a Grip.

Reply to this Admin