Iceage's quick ascent from localized Danish obscurity to global punk phenoms proved to be one of 2011's more intriguing stories. After all, it wasn't just their great debut New Brigade
that gave everyone something on which to gnaw. Their youth was a massive part of the narrative, particularly with the regards to the foibles (supposed flirtations with fascist imagery, vicious live shows, etc.) of a bunch of guys who were still teenagers at the time. Still, that first album displayed a creative spark that seemed preternaturally mature, with a brand of driving, propulsive, and slashing post-punk that felt undeniably vital. Their music clearly reached for something just beyond the band's technical grasp, resulting in hardcore that still felt brittle, with a tumbling energy that threatened to pull the group apart at any second.
Given the hype, it's unsurprising that album number two finds them moving up to a larger label, with an equally massive-sounding set of songs to accompany the change of scenery. And yet, though You're Nothing
has the Matador seal of approval and explodes from the speakers with a newfound clarity and sense of confidence, the dozen tracks gathered here still represent the Iceage we've come to know and love (or hate, if that's your thing). The edges have been softened, but not by much -- album opener "Ecstasy" still careens by on knotted guitars and pulsing drums, albeit with a more upfront melodic heft in the vocals. Strangely, You're Nothing
doesn't really seem to hit its stride until about halfway through, with the excellent combo of "In Haze," "Morals" and "Everything Drift" finding Iceage adding a little bit of light and shade to their music through a few subtle touches -- some intricate, jangling guitar work here, and an extended, plodding intro there. All in all, for that always difficult second album, Iceage wisely eschewed the path of complete reinvention in favor of bolting down the sound they capably explored a couple of years ago, and all the better for it, proving that the group's first go-round was no fluke.
-Michael Crumsho (February 20, 2013)