After bursting onto the scene with monolithic, raging punk and refining their craft to produce a collapsing star in Plowing Into The Field Of Love, all eyes fall to Iceage in the build up to album four. Beyondless finds the quartet continue to expand upon their sound, doubling down on inspired influences (hello Nick Cave) and focusing their anger into an art-punk masterpiece. Some may say it’s capitalising on the promise shown in earlier albums, but the promise had already been cashed in – the new album elevates their sound to further crowning glory, lifting the Danes from the mire and into a strutting, swaggering spotlight.
Needle-sharp production does an impressive job of holding the ramshackle album together and helps construct an album concerned with both grandiose themes and meticulous details. Intense flourishes see the tracks reward repeated listening, be that a chugging bassline and Beady Eye horns to match the Gallagher swagger on stellar single ‘The Day The Music Died’ or demonic country fiddle on the title track. The entire album is tainted with a sordid luxury, its velveteen tracklist lingering in the dark nooks of unexplored genres.
‘Under the Sun’ is a sun-bleached trek across the desert laced with shuffling drums, squeals of feedback and ambitious strings and panpipes. Speakeasy pianos scream out from behind woolly guitars throughout, whereas standout ‘Showtime’ finds frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt stepping through smoke and street corner saxophone, prowling a showring and detailing musicians’ self-destruction in gorgeously slurred prose. The aural allusions to music-hall classics only empower the tight tale, with the horns returning to soundtrack the ‘wretched pantomime’.
Rønnenfelt’s lyrics lurch from dense as a novel to flippant as a comedian, mining dark humour from tales of death, scorn and woe. ‘Hurrah’ is a tour-de-force recap of human warfare, galloping past in a hasty rush; ‘Painkiller’ is Iceage at their most accessible, joined by scum-pop star Sky Ferreira and both vocalists finding glee in the delicious refrain ‘I rue the day, you became my painkiller’.
Riding an exhilarating wave of reckless abandon, Beyondless finds the group building on the jaw-dropping talent of earlier albums and finding fun in destruction. Held together by the loose shape of an album, squint and you could make out the Libertines – open your ears and you hear a band light years ahead of Doherty and co., but one still revelling in filthy debauchery. It’s intense and loose; focused and vague. An awesome collection of songs, Beyondless braves into new territory and is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s beyondless.
BEYONDLESS IS OUT THIS FRIDAY (4/5) VIA MATADOR. PRE-ORDER HERE:
Lead photo: Steve Gullick