Reinvention can be messy. Ask Danish hardcore punks Iceage, who over the course of two albums have established themselves as one of the most ferocious and galvanizing voices in their respective orbit. On 2013′s You’re Nothing they applied a more fully realized heft to their slash-and-burn attack. So at first blush, it’s a little puzzling that their third album, Plowing Into the Field of Love, is such a left turn. If You’re Nothing was the sound of a record-breaking tire run, this one is a drunken tumble through a moon-drenched alley.
Drawing from Spaghetti Western soundtracks, English barroom sing-alongs and post-punk, Field of Love‘s refusal to fall into Nordic punk familiarity is a rejection of stagnation and expectation. And even if things sound rough around the edges, the imperfections and anxious hurriedness are what makes this record feel so urgent and alive. Not every inch of their calloused skin has been shed however, as the militaristic drums, frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s unhinged vocals, and the band’s knack for exposing raw nerves are all still present. Even on songs like the first single “The Lord’s Favorite,” a cheeky, whirling dervish of a track that evokes Gun Club, the tension is palpable.
Some will feel tempted to brand this their “country” album thanks to rollicking rhythms, saloon-grade pianos and dusty acoustic guitars, and while that’s not terribly far off, it’s a far more nuanced affair than that tag would suggest. With help from howling rave-ups (“Abundant Living”), panicked breakdowns (“Cimmerian Shade”) and canal-lit laments (“Against the Moon”), it’s a triumphant, feverish listen.