Post-punk with Britpop characteristics
Adam England
10:52 4th May 2021

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Iceage are back, and on their fifth album the Copenhagen band move further away from the heavier, more hardcore-adjacent sounds prevalent in their earlier work, continuing a progression visible on 2018’s critical success Beyondless. 

Now a five-piece, bringing in another guitarist in the form of Casper Morilla Fernandez, they again eschew hardcore and no wave in favour of what might be described as post-punk with Britpop characteristics. The songs are longer, with only one clocking in before the four-minute mark, and there are just nine of them comprising the record. They’ve roped in Sonic Boom (Peter Kember, formerly of cult psych band Spacemen 3) to produce, and the Lisboa Gospel Collective appear on a few tracks too.

It’s not going to be easy to follow up an album like Beyondless, with the critical acclaim it received from all corners of the music press, but Iceage have clearly been up for the challenge with this album, which continues their growth but not at the expense of the band’s edge.

This could be their most accessible record yet. Opener ‘Shelter Song’, already released as a single, is a five-minute-29-second statement of intent that blends scuzzy guitar and an almost dirge-like feel with an anthemic pints-in-the-air chorus: sort of South London post-punk merged with Oasis, and dragged through Carry On the Grudge-era Jamie T. It’s followed by ‘High & Hurt’, a more frenetic - but just as enjoyable - track with a chanted chorus and mathy rhythms. 

‘Vendetta’ is one of the longest songs on the album, but there’s no danger of it dragging. It’s got an infectious dance-punk groove, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vocals mastering the cocksure swagger of Brit indie legends past and present, while on ‘Gold City’, we veer into arena rock territory. Chugging basslines and relentless percussion make this the sort of track made for festivals, merging post-punk with blues-rock. There’s a real sort of raw purity to it, the band adding harmonicas to their sound for something a little different.

Penultimate track ‘The Wider Powder Blue’ is more straightforward raucous garage-rock of a Strokes/Libertines-esque bent, contrasting with album closer ‘The Holding Hand’, a track that’s much more of a slow-burner, but that mimics the culmination of a live show with a rousing finale.

While it might not be as heavy as their early work, and the Britpop vibe is unmistakable, Iceage haven’t taken on board the more turgid aspects of the genre; this isn’t festival dad-rock. However, it’s way too simplistic simply to call it post-punk either. It’s a record that is sure to keep their current fans on board, while drawing some new ones in too.

Seek Shelter arrives 7 May on Mexican Summer and Escho.

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Photo: Press