Plowing is not just some of the best punk; it is very well one of the best albums of 2014.
Debuting to considerable critical buzz in 2011, the Danish punk band Iceage has just released its third LP, Plowing Into the Field of Love to equal acclaim. With their first release, Iceage was heralded as a reinvigoration of the old Wire-type punk sound with as much noise and fury as other punk groups but with the artistic mindedness of more “intellectual” genres. Having started with their 2nd LP, Plowing finds Iceage moving from Wire to Joy Division in its dark, sulky artfulness. It’s still unmistakably punk rock, but Iceage gives no reverence to what is “true punk,”which is all the more benefit to this record.
Much like Wire, Iceage drops the razor-thin production values typically associated with punk in order to more accurately capture the challenging unease within the songs. For a band heralded as a new coming of punk, it certainly is an interesting move to owe more to Nick Cave and the Meat Puppets than to Wire or Joy Division.
“How Many” is one of the best moments on the album being a great moment of the marriage between higher production values and the anxiety of Iceage’s songwriting. “Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled” is downright menacing. It’s a personal tale of trouble at home set to a growing musical storm that reminds me some of the theatrical tension of The Doors’ “The End.” “The Lord’s Favorite” is a cowpunk single straight off the Meat Puppets’ first few records. “Let It Vanish” is another tense slow-burner ripe with Wire and Gang of Four influence.
As personal and twisted as Plowing can get, the musical undercurrent never strains itself or falls back on cliche to continue. Punk has never been great at longevity and its presence here is a great testament to Iceage. Fans of darker, arty punk ought to eat this album up, but even casual or non-fans of punk should give Plowing a try, if only for a great representation of the genre as of today. Plowing is not just some of the best punk; it is very well one of the best albums of 2014.
Recommended if you like: Wire, Gang Of Four, Television, 90s Nick Cave, No Age, Slint
Recommended Tracks: “How Many,” “Let It Vanish,” “Simony,” and “The Lord’s Favorite”