Plowing Into the Field of Love is the third album from Copenhagen's ICEAGE. It is new, bold and forceful.
Channeling the rage and emotion of their tempestuous early releases into finely honed musicianship, Plowing Into The Field of Love features piano, mandolin, viola and organ atop Johan Suurballe-Wieth's razor-sharp guitars and the lolloping, synchronized rhythm section of Jacob Tvilling Pless and Dan Kjær Nielsen. The record has a clear, uncompressed sound, and Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's desperate vocals are out front, nakedly accountable for the words.
On this album, Rønnenfelt sings of what it is like to be out in the world, dizzy with its offerings, perched on a plateau of false confidence, bliss, fantasy and delirious self-denial. "Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled" tells of a troubled father and son over a sombre and building minor-key chugging riff that builds and builds into a menacing chorus of horns and guitars, "Don't think I did not hear you coming home, boy." The autobiographical "Forever" begins with a pretty repetitive motif over the words, "I always had the sense that I was split in two," and climaxes with a sunburst of horns recalling South African spiritual jazz great Mongezi Feza: "If I could dive into the other, I'd lose myself forever."
At the other extreme, the album tends to a sort of euphoria, especially in the unexpectedly upbeat country number "The Lord's Favorite," and even humor. Yet desperation and loss lurks behind. This is an album about seeing, learning, and rejecting things, in a cycle that repeats and builds. The reference points are wildly varied - on a recent German radio show, the band played records by Abner Jay, Rowland S. Howard, Brian Eno, and Coil - but the sound is uniquely and darkly Iceage.
Why darkly? Because the record fights with itself, in the story it tells and the sound it makes. It is not, however, a remotely difficult record. It is the anthemic sound of a band in motion, unafraid of change, filled with curiosity, musicality and ambition.