Iceage
You're Nothing


3.9
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
February 22nd, 2013 | 159 replies | 13,158 views


Release Date: 02/19/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Come on Ian, baby. It doesn't have to be like this.

I think we’re starting to miss the point of rock music. Submitted for your consideration: Ian Cohen’s review of the new Iceage track, “Coalition.” The first song leaked from the terrific You’re Nothing marks the arrival of a thrillingly beefed-up and tight iteration of the Danish post-punks, but this is of little importance to Cohen compared to the sociopolitical implications of an Iceage song. While he touches briefly on the elements that make the track fun to listen to, “showy drum fills” and “windmilling guitar chords” are mere dressings for the “devastating admission of doubt and sexual identity” Cohen extrapolates from the lyric “Wants me to take her, but blockades run through my veins. Something denies my coalition with you.” The read is shaky at best; Cohen’s only grounding for it is that the guys in Iceage are young and therefore probably confused about relationships. More likely than his read is that in writing the track review, Cohen thought “how to make this punk song sound relevant?” and made a stab at connecting Iceage to gender politics because that’s culturally hip right now.

I don’t mean to pick on Cohen specifically, but a) he just makes it so easy, and b) his piece is symptomatic of a larger critical situation surrounding rock. More and more you see critics and journalists, as if anxious that their favorite genre will soon be made irrelevant by bleep-bloop-bop and whizwave, invent contexts to make the great indie rock records that continue to come out matter. Take The Men’s Open Your Heart and Japandroids’ Celebration Rock: two records whose significance in 2012 sprung from how rock and roll they were, as if riffs, anthemic choruses, and up-tempo drumming have grown so dated that doing them sincerely is a big deal. Both bands were apparently doing something important by playing in a dead mode into nostalgia for days when playing one of four instruments gave you more authenticity as an artist than all the computerized noise-makers of the modern era could possibly grant. Yet what is painfully obvious from interviews with both acts is how bereft of shits they had to give in regards to all that. A year removed, it hurts to see how that whole conversation, which I was wholeheartedly a part of, ultimately meant nothing. When I jam both records on a long car trip, there is no kitsch tear shed now for how beautiful it is to hear electric guitars with earnest distortion. Both records are phenomenal for reasons I and those caught up in the meta-ness of the moment missed. Namely: they’re really fucking good.

So is You’re Nothing. Iceage’s music is too gloomy and brutal to stand for the state of rock, but the tenor Cohen set with the most visible reintroduction of Iceage to the internet makes me anxious. His track review makes me imagine think pieces that make mountains out of lines like “If I could leave my body then I would,” or, as Cohen does, read a chant of “excess!” in a punk song as a “curse against losing control.” This would be a shame. Were this the kind of conversation to emerge around You’re Nothing, I can see the things about it that matter, the things that are vital to its success as a piece of music, getting glossed over. What’s exciting about You’re Nothing is not its potentially deeply-embedded personal politics. It is Iceage’s traceable sonic maturation between New Brigade, an album that threatened to implode at any moment, to the more refined, controlled demolition they present now. It is the consistency that keeps it alive in a way that was disappointingly absent from its predecessor. And of course, it is the monster choruses, riffs, emotive wails, showy drum fills and windmilling guitar chords Iceage have made staples. Allowed to go unchecked, I fear the idiots might miss the killer album for the angles.

This can work both ways, of course. Just look at New Brigade; in that case, it’s quite possible that the angles made the killer album. In 2011, Iceage’s ramshackle nature was forgivable, even intrinsic to their success. They came out during the year of Kill People, Burn shit, fuck School. Having a song called “Broken Bone” and a section of their website devoted to injuries fans suffered at concerts worked hard to their advantage with the whole repressed-masculine-violence kick we were all on at the time. Thankfully that trend died off, but with it went much of New Brigade’s importance, hindsight rendering the album not much more than a solid shake-up of post-punk by upstarts.

But You’re Nothing cements Iceage as contenders. You’re Nothing is the album New Brigade wasn’t quite, the one by the terrific band we saw during the moments when their massive potential was revealed. The band that gave us the chorus of “White Rune” has now given us the chorus of “Morals,” which seethes with nervous energy yet has a melody that sticks even more stubbornly in your skull. The band that ran on angular riffing and bass lines has finally turned up the rhythm guitar, filling their sound out to increase both the menace they affect in their sleep and the major-key energy they’ve begun to flirt with. Whereas New Brigade got its moxie from the violent attitude of four sneering jaw lines, You’re Nothing finds Iceage with the songs, production, emotion, and tightness--in other words, the talent--to pull that off.

What I mean by saying we’re missing the point of rock music is that when talking up a rock album, it’s easy to get lost trying to justify yourself with abstract concepts, especially when the thing you like about it can most accurately be summed up with shit slays, bro. In the end, those words in italics are all that really matter, and no amount of intellectual circle-jerking should trump that key point. And what does You’re Nothing have to do with all of this? Not much beyond my anxiety that it’s good enough to be the next album we totally fuck up. If people start seriously talking about You’re Nothing, which they should, I pray it’s because of the music and not the surrounding, extratextual discourse. If it’s saying anything, it’s that Iceage have dropped everything that you didn’t like about them while improving upon the things you did. Don’t take all the fun out of it by over-thinking. This is an album that need not bare relation to the zeitgeist for accolades; it stands alone, a monumental work that declares the arrival of a confident, fully-realized band. Just turn it on and break shit, I don’t know.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

basically, a lengthy response to this: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/14730-coalition/

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

GiaNXGX
February 22nd 2013



4867 Comments


can most accurately summed up with shit slays, bro.


missing a be


I thought for a second you were referencing Ian Curtis with that summary haha.


klap
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



10306 Comments


six paragraphs about over-thinking

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

^my life in 4 words

GiaNXGX
February 22nd 2013



4867 Comments


assuming pitchfork reviewers give fucks about sputnikmusic

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



10306 Comments


haha but i enjoyed this review. i suppose i should listen to this even though i didn't think much of the debut. for the
record, i 100% agree with the point you're trying to make with this review and have really been trying to write bs-free
reviews lately. i always feel like there's plenty enough in the music to avoid needlessly contextualizing every single thing.
although given that the cohen piece you're referencing is a track review, i don't feel the need to be so hard on it - how
else to turn a track review into something substantial

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



10306 Comments


read that comment out loud for all the necessary stop-start pauses

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

assuming pitchfork reviewers give fucks about sputnikmusic


well robert christgau did once. who knows who'll stumble over to this dark place.

although given that the cohen piece you're referencing is a track review, i don't feel the need
to be so hard on it - how else to turn a track review into something substantial


there are other things to write than straight up conjecture, as I feel that piece was.

Storm In A Teacup
February 22nd 2013



12687 Comments


That summary is speaking to me.

GiaNXGX
February 22nd 2013



4867 Comments


I also enjoyed the review, by the way. It's just that making a big deal out of a small one isn't
something I would recommend unless you know beforehand that the person it is addressed at actually
cares about it/this.

CasinoColumbus
February 22nd 2013



340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought for a second you were referencing Ian Curtis with that summary haha.
Haha, same here.
I liked reading this man. Been spinning this album a lot lately.

fromtheinside
February 22nd 2013



17937 Comments


adam downer
as I live and breathe
sensational write up.
can't read another word I'm so full

Digging: Coroner - No More Color

wabbit
February 22nd 2013



6984 Comments


damnit downer I don't give a fuck about some asshole at pitchfork I just want to know what you think.

toxin.
February 22nd 2013



12191 Comments


cool review. write more, downer

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Brilliant review, agree with every word.

Apart from the bits about the record - I don't like it as much as you.

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



6092 Comments


The issue seems to be more about the author's ability to contextualize and articulate what it is about the music (as simple/complex as it may be) that allows it to say so much, regardless of authorial intent.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

The issue seems to be more about the author's ability to contextualize and articulate what it
is about the music (as simple/complex as it may be) that allows it to say so much, regardless of
authorial intent.


True. I suppose my point is worried about the type of conjecture I get from Cohen's piece, that he's
grasping at smart-people straws to authoritatively explain why an Iceage song is good. He's not the
only critic guilty of this, obviously. I mean shit, I have been so guilty of this in the past. But his
was a helpful jumping off point for this piece.

wabbit
February 22nd 2013



6984 Comments


just fucking rock out man

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2013



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

zactly

robin
Emeritus
February 22nd 2013



4247 Comments


you're my favourite man and iceage make manly music and usually i can't get down to that but i'm nothing



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