Iceage tries new sound for “Plowing Into the Field of Love”

Courtesy of Matador Records
Courtesy of Matador Records

Too messy for mainstream rock and alternative and too tame for punk, Iceage’s new album “Plowing Into the Field of Love” is one that can’t be easily placed into any subgenre of rock or alternative music due to the variety of elements and instruments used in each track. “Plowing Into the Field of Love” gets across that it is trying to reach out to a wider audience by having a more polished sound but misses the mark. It’s too experimental to be enjoyed by a larger audience and its sound has changed so drastically that many Iceage fans who enjoyed their rough edge can’t find that with their new release. It is definitely more refined, but it tries to be two different sounds at once, which causes it to be just clunky and overall loud, unpleasant noise.

Iceage went from complete obscurity to at least being slightly well-known in 2011, being a fairly recent band from Denmark. One notable aspect marking their studio album is that it is a contrast from Iceage’s previous albums, which tried to focus on punk elements which are usually comprised of a raw and unmastered quality to their sound. “Plowing Into the Field of Love,” while still very guitar-focused, differs due to the added elements of horns, piano and on occasion acoustic guitars.

Iceage fails to set themselves apart and create their own unique sound, with each song feeling like it is copying other bands. The lead singer and guitarist Elias Bender Ronnenfelt has the same deep, almost monotone voice that was once unique in the rock and alternative scene but has never been successfully replicated since the Strokes. Every time brass elements are brought into the mix, it’s as if the song has turned into a Neutral Milk Hotel song. And it can’t be helped to notice the overwhelming similarities between Iceage and Cloud Nothings, an alternative indie band that has a distinct, rough edge to it, especially when it comes to their lead singer’s voice. There’s just nothing that makes this album significant or the least bit set apart from other artists with the same caliber.

Another issue with this album is that it’s also very repetitive within itself. Most of the songs follow the same beat and have the same style of singing and the album soon turns into an amorphous blob where each song is indistinguishable from the other. Toward the end of the album, all of the songs have been slowed down immensely, as if the album itself is tired of playing, with each track consisting of a sedated tempo, slow-strumming guitars and Ronnenfelt almost crying each lyric over the heavy instrument usage they have.

To say this album is just mindless noise is not true. In “Against the Moon,” Ronnenfelt sings “Oh my pistol, shining bright / Justify me, make me right,” highlighting the issue of self-destruction, while “Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled” outright sings “I am an absent father / glassy-eyed, drunken and unveiled,” weaving a story of a troubles and complexities between a father and son. But unfortunately, although many of the lyrics are beautiful and actually thought-provoking, the same can’t be said for the execution. The lyrics may be good, but if it’s mumbled and indistinguishable, it doesn’t matter.

“Plowing Into the Field of Love” fails to give a new musical experience to the listener, as many bands in the rock and alternative scene have the exact same sound. The irony is that the album is supposed to be about identity, yet the album itself fails to have one.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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