Iceage’s lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sings “We’re running out of time” on “Awake,” the second-to-last song on the Danish band’s second album, You’re Nothing. I’m pretty sure he’s singing about some kind of self-imposed half-hour cap. Like the band’s first record, 2011’s impeccable New Brigade, You’re Nothing wraps up within 30 minutes. Despite its glacial name, this band is in a hell of a hurry, spitting out furious chunks of surly post-punk like a younger, angrier, Scandinavian Wire.
You’re Nothing is of a piece with New Brigade, a 12-song strategic strike of guitars and raspy vocals dripping with condescension. The band’s spreading out and experimenting with space a bit more than before, though. Songs are often slightly longer, boasting marginally more complex arrangements (instead of blitzing through an idea in 90 seconds, a song occasionally stews on it for two, sometimes even three minutes at a time). The lyrics are in English, but between the speed and Rønnenfelt’s deep rumble of a voice (think Birthday Party-era Nick Cave) it’s hard to make out more than a few phrases per song. The intensity is thrilling, though, and both the vocals and the music find melodies amid the din. To further that Wire comparison, You’re Nothing is the more confident and accomplished Chairs Missing to New Brigade’s reckless Pink Flag.
On the surface many would consider You’re Nothing to be youthful and rebellious, with its noisy guitars, breakneck bass, hyperactive drums and indignant vocals. It’s not the kind of punk or indie rock that lends itself well to TV commercials. But this is basically ancient territory by now; this record could’ve existed 35 years ago. Somehow it’s timeless, totally of its moment, and yet completely anachronistic at the same time. It’s a group of early twentysomethings making angry music that probably sounds nostalgic to a certain subset of 50-year-olds. This is 21st century rock and roll.
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