“Punk is nothing but death…and crime…and the rage of a beast” – All Star Batman and Robin, Frank Miller.
I’m genuinely befuddled by people thinking this is post-punk (ah, genres…). This is punk, not in the being of Sex Pistols or The Clash, but more in the style of Dead Boys, Generation X and Circle Jerks (or any of the punk bands from the quintessential punk soundtrack, Repo Man). With that said, Iceage seem to have clenched a raw energy that sounds polished enough to be presentable even to the uninitiated while still satisfying the more well versed in the genre.
It might get loud. And punchy. Just the way it should be. The 12 tracks that make up You’re nothing carry a heavy dose of energy, akin to letting a grudge go away. And just like that action of letting go a grudge, when the initial offence has dissipated into the ether, so does this album.
That might sound like a backhanded compliment and I guess it is. You see, my experience with this album is that I don’t remember it when it ends. If someone asks me to describe it, I go back to the references I just gave (and always get a bit of a glazed look back). But when I listen to You’re nothing, it grabs me. There’s not a single moment of this album that goes to waste and if the memory of it doesn’t remain, you sure feel every single moment.
Case in point the almost military pace of ‘Morals’, the urgent track that feels like the band’s arteries clogging with an anger fuelled cholesterol rise (it happens). You wait for ‘Morals’ to explode, but no, it just fades, with a pent-up anger building up inside you that will need to be released. Worry not, there’s a lot of tracks where that energy will be used, dissipated and created out of thin air again. ‘Wounded hearts’ is a good starting point if you need to do so.
Territory-wise, some sights might seem visited previously, but the landmarks have changed enough to make the visit well worth it. ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Coalition’ might be grinding numbers that shake the dust off the tapes in your memory while ‘It might hit first’ and ‘Rodfaestet’ blow away any left over layers of crusted detritus. For those who want to experience the more abstract sounds this band can create, do take a gander to their ‘Interlude’, the ominous segue before the strepitous ‘Burning hand’.
Punk sometimes get a bad rep (just like that silly Frank Miller* quote that I pasted for no real reason) but it’s probably more due to the perception that it’s dumb music. Iceage manages to be another band to prove that punk isn’t dumb while still taking the tropes of the genre, bending them a bit and even having some fun. And ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
*Frank Miller went downhill once he started to write every single character like his Sin City characters. Discuss.