Iceage

Plowing Into The Field Of Love

Written by: PP on 15/10/2014 20:23:25

For their third album in four years, iceage throw a curveball at their listeners and decide to a) learn how to play their instruments proper and b) go for a more ambitious form of songwriting than the claustrophobic and cacophonic post-punk mess, which was admittedly excellent on last year's "You're Nothing". In comparison, "Plowing Into The Field Of Love" sounds like it could've been written by a different band altogether if it wasn't for Elias' consistently careless and sloppy vocal delivery that hasn't changed a bit from the debut album. Here, he manages to harness it to his advantage thanks to a more interesting musical landscape that somehow transforms his unconventional crooning from borderline annoying into a charming post-modern, metropolitan struggle, or whatever the appropriate sonic equivalent of that is.

Although the band still finds themselves primarily within the realm of post-punk, they've cut down on the cacophonic vibes a bit, or at least changed them to sound more ambitious and more together than has previously been the case. Country-inspired acoustic guitars, piano, horn instrumentation, and Brit rock riffage are some of the elements that are introduced throughout the album, leading into fans comparing them to a looser version of The Libertines on multiple occasions. The Smiths, Nick Cave, and Joy Division are all leveraged as influence, resulting into a bastard child sort of sound that refuses to listen to their parents while going in the opposition direction at all times. It's a complicated record in that sense, but also one that shows musical maturity and willingness to concentrate on fascinating songwriting rather than the loose post-punk with echoing vocals that they've been known for in the past.

At the same time, the songs occasionally show a bit more melodic groove than we're used to ("How Many"), folksy vibes ("Stay"), and even depictions of how indie rock sounds like when you introduce total cacophony and chaos into the sound ("Plowing Into The Field Of Love"). The songs are varied, albeit frustrating because they are challenging pieces that require the listener to actually pay attention. It'll be interesting to note the mainstream reaction to a record that is far more complex and, in some places, frantic than their previous material. After all, there may be a few catchy bits here and there, but primarily this album is iceage's way of flippin' the bird to all the hipsters who listen to certain bands just because they are 'cool' and simultaneously a way of embracing music enthusiasts by offering a product that has real listening value, long-term. Just listen to the desperate cleans turning into screams on "Let It Vanish" and you'll be convinced iceage mean business. But all that being said, on a personal level I did prefer the relative simplicity and straight up post-punk vibe of "You're Nothing" a tiny bit more than this album, but that's just me. If you've been an iceage skeptic all this time, this might be the album that changes your mind about them.

Download: How Many, Plowing Into The Field Of Love, The Lord's Favorite
For the fans of: The Smiths, The Libertines, Nick Cave, Joy Division
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.10.2014
Matador Records

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