Iceage – Seek Shelter
Released May 7th, 2021 on Mexican Summer
When New Brigade came out ten (!) years ago, it was the sound of a very young band dropping an atomic bomb of a debut record. It was equal points noisy, gothic, and hardcore; the Copenhagen band seemed to revel in staring into the void and channeling whatever stared back out of it. This was thrilling but also frightening at times; the band’s brief, now-forgotten flirtation with Danish fascist symbols seemed to speak of something dark and unstable, something that would cause them to implode like so many other white-hot young bands before them.
Unlike those other bands, however, Iceage has managed to slowly incorporate novelty into their style without breaking the framework of what made them so stellar in the first place. Their subsequent albums saw them slowly changing from breakneck noisecore into something more traditionally rock ‘n’ roll, without actually sanding off all the rough edges. The path from New Brigade to 2018’s Beyondless is a fascinating journey, like listening to a barely-heard radio broadcast that slowly strips off the static interference and starts coming in stronger. Seek Shelter is the cap on this journey: the band’s own Let It Bleed, a textured and roughly melodic record that seems equally as home in the world of the Jesus And Mary Chain as it does in the gospel-soaring landscape of early Primal Scream.
They’re not the only one of their contemporaries to affect such a shift, of course. The Men started off as a similarly noisy crunch-band and became, uh, country dads, becoming more and more heartland with every new release. That’s not what Iceage has done on their journey, however. Rather than simply letting their age show and becoming, I don’t know, a power pop band or whatever, they’ve added on pieces and layers so that the overall sound is much different from its roots a decade ago, but is still exceedingly recognizable as their own. The gospel tinges on both “Shelter Song” and “High and Hurt” are an artifact of this, to be sure, but so are the climax melodies – the lines you can really belt out after you’ve had a few. These have been a feature of the band’s sound since 2014’s Plowing The Fields Of Love but they’ve really come into their own here (the interpolation of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” is particularly inspired). The final moments of the album, on the singalong ending of “The Holding Hand”, have a feeling like you’re breaking through into ground into the sunlight and it’s washing all over you, warming and burning all at the same time. Seek Shelter has the feeling of a record to grow on – which is exhilarating, considering how great it is on its first listen.