The dour post-punks of Iceage have just swaggered into a boots-scuffed honky tonk. The Copenhagen band’s 2013 album You’re Nothing was one of those sophomore albums, like the Strokes‘ Room on Fire or Interpol‘s Antics, that succeed by refining rather than reimagining the sound of an acclaimed debut. “The Lord’s Favorite,” a new song from the Elias Bender Rønnenfelt-led group, is a dramatic — and successful — shift in a surprising direction: rootsy, dive-bar country-punk.
The song comes with a drink-spilling video, directed by Cali Thornhill Dewitt (whose previous credits include an Iceage short film and a clip for Omar Souleyman), where Rønnenfelt, with a dapperly bedraggled appearance evoking Nick Cave, holds forth from behind a martini glass. He’s wearing a Western shirt, though, and as the bass oompahs, drums gallop and guitars twang behind him, Rønnenfelt’s heavy Danish accent acts like a bizarro Southern drawl: When he huffs, “I do believe in heaven, and I do believe it’s real,” he could almost be the Dutchman scientists recently taught to love Johnny Cash (no, really).
Elements of classic country have been creeping into quite a few records outside the genre recently. Our editor-in-chief compared Jenny Lewis’ “The Voyager” title track to Nashville’s slicked-up “countrypolitan” sound, and The Fader, commenting on the new Iceage, astutely points to the country tinges in material like ex-Girls leader Christopher Owens’ new “Nothing More Than Everything to Me” and Pure X’s Heaven (the Austin, Texas band even covered Eddie Rabbitt). As with those other nods toward Nashville, “The Lord’s Favorite” is still immediately recognizable as the work of the band that made it.
Will Iceage stay on this trajectory? The video’s YouTube description promises “more new music coming soon,” so it shouldn’t be long before we’ll find out. For now, this confident Scandinavian-Americana foray calls for breaking out the “100 euro wine.”