2021 • ROCK • MEXICAN SUMMER
Produced by Nis Bysted e Sonic Boom, Danish band Iceage’s fifth record features well thought out lyrics alongside nice instrumentation while the band faces their fears inside their own homes.
Iceage’s fifth record, Seek Shelter, comes from a pre-pandemic world. The Danish band’s album began to be recorded back into December 2019, when, according to what the Iceage’s vocalist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt tolt The Ringer, the place we were living was a “world that you could still venture into and get lost.” Then, the band formed in 2008 suffered from a lack of creativity. Rønnenfelt also told that after recording something, he would go out to walk and relax to recharge his energies, which, due to the pandemic and isolation, was no longer possible. So, they had to extract the essence from their own homes, their own shelters. “You do have to look inward rather than to the outer world to find these things,” he said.
Even though Seek Shelter is their weakest project to date, is still relatively great. Featuring embracing and diverse string sound, playing from country influences to contemporary rock, great vocal performance, and well-written lyrics, the album produced by Nis Bysted and Sonic Boom delivers a firm-standing storyteller work that rarely tells the same story twice and constantly diversifies its metaphors and morals. It’s an album that was born from home intimacy, facing their most personal fears and most hidden guilty pleasures, however, still sounds like something that could be played for crowds and be felt by young and old. In its lowest point, Seek Shelter has some moments where they opt for something that is not impressive but is still good.
At the first listening, Seek Shelter really seems an album full of usual and common classic rock influences. But, the more you hear it, the more you go deep into it, analyzing it like an onion and noticing its various layers, discovering that its sound, despite the similarities, is much more a modernization than a reproduction. “High & Hurt,” features the energy of the 80’s rock bands, although it doesn’t sound as memorable as others songs here. Meanwhile, “Vendetta,” is the most experimental track on the record, playing with idiophone, synthesizers, physics experiments, and onomatopoeia — impressively, they make it all work together. Furthermore, “Drink Rain,” appears with lighter instruments, singing well thought out metaphors. “Life’s a moving image that occurred/I’m not too keen on pleasantries,” he sings. “Wetness benefits the firefly/Life is but a flicker then you die,” he completes on the second verse. In others words, they delivered the normal and the different, both in sound and lyrics.
But, the strongest tracks on Seek Shelter are the ones that go deep into their soul and play with the most intimate feelings and perspectives. “Love Kills Slowly” features slow strings and pianos while Rønnenfelt sings with his drunk voice. “The tender scent hangs long after the end/Recall those comforts, the failed attempts,” he starts, “But love, love kills slowly/And it burns with every fading memory,” and concludes. Although this track has some moments that easily resemble 2000s rock, at no time it sounds dated. “Gold City,” in its turn, is the match between the old-school country with more modern rock. The song starts off with a harmonica and while Elias sounds challenging on the verses, the hook is really raw, with a nice aesthetic of something unfinished and dusty. But, the best track on the record is the opener, “Shelter Song,” where they present their deepest lyricism alongside their strongest and most powerful instrumentation. Heavy and unclear strings open the track, just before Rønnenfelt started singing, “My sign is waiting, rise up until the curve bends over down/They’ll entertain you, alleviate the now into its ground.” On their catchiest hook of the entire record, he sings with his teenage voice, “They kick you when you’re up, they knock you when you’re down/Some shielding from the fighting.”
However, the final part of the record, the last three songs on the album, are relatively disappointing. Even though they are not bad, they just don’t feature anything that really stands out. While “Dear Saint Cecilia” has a sound that remembers alternative 80s-inspired projects, “The Wider Powder Blue” appears with the rawest vocal performance by Rønnenfelt, and “The Holding Hand” shows what seems to be Elias singing into a bottle of water while synthetics create frightening instrumentation on the background. “Knocking on your window is a cavalcade/Pleading for relief, a call to aid,” he sings last. The freer future is hitting their window, they’re just waiting to break with everything.