Iceage’s collaboration with Sky Ferriera sees the band acquiring a renewed energy, Letty Gardner reviews
Opening with loud, flashy brass sounds very unlike Iceage, ‘Pain Killer’ presents the Danish punk band making a surprising move, as we await their upcoming album ‘Beyondless’. Collaborating with a similarly dormant Sky Ferreira, this and previously released single ‘Catch It’ is the first time we’ve heard from Iceage since their 2014 album Plowing Into the Field of Love. Opposing their earlier morose sound, is this the band’s effort to renew their sound, or simply make it more commercial?
Immediately with the track we recognise the brass band opening and Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s altered singing style. Characteristically on older tracks, such as ‘The Lord’s Favourite’, Rønnenfelt’s vocals are at times almost impossible to stomach- gratingly harsh, jarringly tuneless, and plain dark. Whereas here, in the track’s opening at least, the vocals paired with those of Sky Ferreira are pleasing and harmonious. This to me is the biggest surprise, however, ‘Pain Killer’ soon develops into the chaos that we know Iceage for. Rønnenfelt drops the clean-cut singing style and returns to his jarring drawl. The glitzy brass sounds continue but get lost in the chaos of the four piece’s thrashing guitars and drums. The refrain ‘I rue the day you became my painkiller’ becomes more and more rambling, moaned over the muddled instrumentals.
Iceage have never been subtle, but this track feels overstated in a different way. Very unlike the stumbling, depressing tracks of 2014, such as ‘Against the Moon’ or ‘Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled’, ‘Pain Killer’ suggests an uncharacteristic energy and renewed liveliness that strikes me as odd for the band. Nevertheless, it has been four years, and ‘Pain Killer’ makes me interested to hear the upcoming fourth studio album.
‘Beyondless’, the fourth album for Iceage, is scheduled for release on May 4th via Matador Records. Iceage will play London’s Scala on May 8th.