The phenomenon of increasing claustrophobia and anxiety in the music released (or recorded) during the pandemic became commonplace and ceased to be perceived as something new: a number of post-punk bands of 'new wave of the post-punk revival', made such changes central to their work – fortunately or not, even before the COVID times, the general state of the world gave many reasons for this. It's a wonder that in this environment, one of the mastodons of this newly formed scene, called one of its main representatives by many, Iceage, found the inner strength – to push their boundaries in a completely different direction.
In a short period of three years since the release of Beyondless, the guys from Copenhagen have changed almost beyond recognition. This, in the first place, became noticeable on the singles, on which, sometimes, the only feature that helped to recognise Iceage, was the same emotional, expressive drawl of Ellas Bender Rennenfelt – stylistically they sometimes sounded like an alter-ego side project of the same band members. At the same time, being very heterogeneous, they frighteningly poorly gave any understanding of how the full-length would sound – but, thanks God, all the fears turned out to be absolutely unfounded.
Seek Shelter is a real growing up album. Instead of mixing up interesting, but loosely connected creative experiments like some other bands do, Iceage, who not for a moment lost their extraordinary lyricism (‘Shifting to a lower substation to let it swirl in the greater around; we become each other's sedatives, giving shelter till the cloudburst dies down’ on ‘Shelter Song’ is just one great example of many on this LP), the Danes present a whole palette of greatly increased self-awareness and self-acceptance – of the sound, also, – which has become much more open (not without the help of Peter Kember, the founder of the cult minimalistic psychodella pioneers Spacemen 3). This openness, as a result, takes a variety of forms – alt-rock, art-rock, but most of all, perhaps, the most soulful of the rebelish genres – blues, which is the framework of most Seek Shelter songs. And even if the boys sometimes go too far with the use of it, as, for example, on ' Drink Rain’, Tom Waits-styled ballad, which slightly steps down in the terms of ease with which the LP operates with sonical freedom that they have provided themselves with suddenly clean production, almost britpop-like use of polyphony and extremely warm, wrapping you in a warm blanket, melodies, it is the blues (post-blues?) became the main point of why Seek Shelter works so well as a whole. Yet, despite the emotionally powerful core perfectly captured in the heartstrings-touching 'Shelter Song' and 'Love Kills Slowly‘, the trademark chaos for which Iceage became so well-known has not disappeared – ’ Vendetta', an essay on the fatigue from the never-ending violence in criminal families, is there to remind you this.
As a result, Seek Shelter turns out to be perhaps the most do-not-listen-to-singles-and-build-your-opinion-around-it Danes' album. But this is also a good thing it's built like that – because the life-affirming statement, with love and care put in it by the noticeably more grown-up and kinder Iceage, can only be felt when listening to it in its entirety. So, what are you waiting for?