Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

5. Iceage
You're Nothing

Iggy Pop has described Iceage as the only current punk band "that sounds really dangerous." On their sophomore album, You're Nothing, it isn't hard to figure out exactly where Iggy's coming from. What sets these sulking Danish punks apart from their contemporaries is their seamless ability to turn dark, negative energy into something entirely exhilarating.

On opener "Ecstasy," frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt shouts about the mundane continuity and pressures of everyday life. It's a bleak and nihilistic track, but beneath its apocalyptic thrash lies an undeniable penchant for melody and lyrical honesty. Rønnenfelt takes clear influence from existential works like Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus when he offers lyrics like "each day another rock upon my head" before resolving that "bliss is momentary anyhow, yet worth living for take me now."

Therein lies the "ecstasy" to which Iceage refers. Rarely does a band sound so emotionally destructive, yet so hopeful; so restrained, yet so loose. You're Nothing is a short album with short songs and, appropriately, at no point does it appear to drag on. Throughout its 12 songs and 28 minutes, You're Nothing is relentlessly desolate and gloomy, yet somehow unceasingly inspiring and passionate.

A lot has been made of the ages of these four Danes, and it will certainly be interesting to see if they can maintain such an impressive aura of youthful passion and anxiety as they continue to progress. In any case, Iceage will for now continue to lead an ever-blossoming Copenhagen punk scene that is one of today's most exciting. (Duncan Boyd)