Review Summary: Post-punk revived in 24 minutes…
Some albums don’t require fancy production, polished musicianship or catchy pop melodies to work. New Brigade
is certainly one of that stock, its 12 statements of fury come blistering out of the gate without care for direction or destination – it's the journey there that matters and this is one hell of a ride.
There’s rarely an album released today as pure, uncompromising and influenced as Iceage’s first LP. From top to bottom, this beast does what it likes. It doesn’t deliver huge, sweeping hooks, although there are some, it’s just that one must fight through the noise storm to be caught by them. Nor does it have a polished, cohesive set of songs – each stops and starts as furiously as the last, and if one doesn’t pay much attention you’d struggle to notice the transition from track to track.
But that’s not the point of New Brigade
anyway. It’s not meant to be a pretty set of soul searching poetry or a glistening collection of catchy pop – it’s a pure punk record; a call-back to the glory days of gloomy post punk a la Warsaw (early Joy Division), and the fractured metallic ramble of Wire, and in its mission to recall such outfits, Iceage certainly delivers.
The production is clean but bare, allowing each element to ring out as loudly as it can, each fighting for top position – whether it’s the scatter-dash drums, the rumbling, throbbing bass, the spidery, ear-shredding lead work or the shouty, barroom punk vocals.
It’s not worth picking out individual songs – not because they’re too similar to call (they are, but repeated listens allows some distinction) – but rather because the album works best when listened to in one spin. It’s so brief and rough that it shines through the mire most brightly when one presses play on ‘Intro’, cranks up the volume and braces for the impact of a 24 minute gut punch, until each jab is complete. Few albums tap into the anger banks like New Brigade
, and that’s precisely why it works if such emotions need connecting to, and why it fails for those wishing to avoid confrontation.
is nothing more and nothing less than a pure shard of blistering punk noise, but it’s not trying to be anything other. It’s brief, inaccessible and confrontational with its relentless post-punk dour, so one can’t expect everyone to enjoy or grasp the album, but for those with a taste for 70s punk or any of its evolved forms, and who are looking to let out some anger, Iceage’s no-bull approach will cut deep enough to satisfy for just long enough.