Monday, 10 October 2011

Purist punk and suspicious mindsets on Iceage debut New Brigade

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Iceage's debut album, New Brigade, for Dummy. I found myself really enjoying it despite its fairly predictable template of scratchy retro punk and confused stabs at shock value (half-hearted references to runes and the KKK, plus a few Harrington jackets and bovver boots thrown in for good measure). Definitely worth a few spins if you're wondering where all the half-decent guitar bands went.

New Brigade
Out on Abeano

Four teenage Danes in Harrington jackets and switchblade smirks have just released their debut album New Brigade in the UK. Back home, Iceage have already attracted an unusual amount of media interest for an underground band of abrasive snotrockers, with local tabloids getting into a familiar fear-mongering froth over bolshy kids making too much racket (“Teenage bullies full of anger and anxiety!” according to one headline, as translated by singer Elias Rønnenfelt).

If alarm bells are ringing, you’re not alone in your suspicions. A supposedly underground band getting mainstream column inches? Who’s bankrolling this stunt? Where’s the guerrilla gig? Are Iceage a corporate Trojan horse for a new strain of piss-weak continental lager? Well, it’s good news: the band’s credentials appear to be clean – or rather, appealingly unclean and genuinely independent. A mood of nihilistic despair and aggression courses through New Brigade as they channel the savage post-punk of Wire and Mission of Burma with the obliterated noise-rock of early '80s no wave or primitive Sonic Youth, although their visual aesthetic is rather less savoury – a dubious tattoo of possibly-quite-fascist neofolk band Death in June has been spotted on guitarist Johan Surrballe, while shallow references to Klansmen the video above and runes are juvenile shock tactics at best. Doubtless these Danes trace their bloodline back to Søren Kierkegaard rather than Hans Christian Andersen, yet there’s little trace of the left-wing (or any-wing) moralising that came as standard in the first wave of punk.

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