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Iceage, ‘New Brigade’

SPIN Rating: 9 of 10
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Label: What’s Your Rupture?

By the time you read this, Iceage will be here. Before kicking off their North American summer tour, the Copenhagen four-piece were already generating the kind of awed praise a noisy young guitar band just can’t buy anymore. The group’s thoroughgoing blog, with its images and videos from bloodied, chaotic live shows, certainly helped. But so did this jagged, visceral debut album, now receiving a proper U.S. release after emerging last year on Danish label Escho.

From its trudging ambient intro to a cathartic shout-along finale, New Brigade is a 12-song, 24-minute call to arms. On behalf of what cause nobody seems to agree. Early online reaction has been intense and wide-ranging, from highbrow (The New Yorker) to hipster (Vice) to DIY punk (Maximumrocknroll). Comparisons have spanned Wire’s inspired punk clatter, Joy Divison’s splintered post-punk brooding, the bipolar post-hardcore of San Diego label Gravity, and even Liars’ ethereal art-scrawl — plus lesser-known European genres such as D-beat and anarcho-punk.

Whatever. Equal parts dizzying and galvanizing, New Brigade is a dissonant cry to seize the moment, though the band seems to acknowledge that moment will soon be gone. The English-language lyrics take time to decipher, but they’re still stirring, delivered in a brusque, boyish bellow. And with their ingeniously disjointed almost-anthems (“Broken Bone,” “Remember”) Iceage shouldn’t lack for recruits, among either punk devotees or rubbernecking dilettantes.