September 8, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

It can be difficult for a band to wash away the “hype band” smell. The distinction comes with its own set of built-in expectations and prejudices, few if any of them fair to the band themselves. We’re all prone to judging bands not on their artistic merit, but on our opinion of who’s talking about them. (The irony here is not lost on me.)

Iceage, a very young band still, were hyped from the beginning. A group of vaguely good-looking, well-dressed European teenagers performing a cloudy, seemingly intentionally detached take on hardcore punk sounds like something a street fashion marketer would brainstorm in a meeting. It seems a little too perfectly constructed for a lot of people, who in this day and age are often rightfully skeptical of anything and everything that could be a work. But good songs trump just about everything, including rampant skepticism, and Iceage have written a bunch of them in their short time together. Their last album, You’re Nothing, was constructed to be simultaneously hazy and heavy, with goth-tinged, buzzsaw guitars, muddled production and lackadaisical vocal work from Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. Ironically, through its devil-may-care facade, it confronted and openly questioned our preconceived notions of hardcore punk which, whether you like the music itself or not, is a fairly innovative thing in this age of everything all the time.

Now it seems as if Iceage are openly striving to subvert expectations. “Forever,” the latest song released from their new album Plowing Into the Field of Love (out Oct. 6 via Matador), finds the band trading in muddled textures for more open space, tastefully occupied by twangy guitars, dramatic strings and eventually, abrasive horns. “The Lord’s Favorite,” the first song released from the album, is even more twangy; the song’s melodic and deliberate gait is lifted straight from the classic country music playbook, as Rønnenfelt does the closest thing to singing in the six years Iceage have been a band.