Published Oct 28, 2016Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is primarily known for fronting the angular, abrasive, arty post-punk band Iceage, but it's his side project Marching Church that proves far more interesting with repeated listens.
Originally started as a solo project in 2010, Marching Church morphed into a full band in 2015 for the release of This World Is Not Enough, a swaggering, spacious and groove-filled avant-punk album inspired by James Brown, Sam Cooke and Young Americans-era David Bowie. "What I pictured was me in a comfortable armchair, adorned in a golden robe, leading a band while a girl kept pouring me champagne when I required it," Rønnenfelt said about his vision for the record at the time. It suffices to say it was a little all over the place.
One year on, Rønnenfelt and co. are back with Telling It Like It Is, an album that continues the Mick Jagger-backed-by-Dexys-Midnight-Runners-on-a-bender vibe of their first release, but feels like a far more focused effort.
Rønnenfelt's voice has always been an acquired taste, but his exasperated caterwauling has tapered off as time has worn on; here, on "Inner City Pigeon" and single "Lion's Den," he sounds downright soulful. The instrumentation remains varied compared to his previous albums with Iceage, but the studio seems to be the real instrument of choice here, with endless pockets of electro-acoustic experimentation worth exploring alongside the nine-track album's taut bass lines and tight percussion. And while the echoing melodica used throughout gives everything a sort of "Clint Eastwood"-y sheen, that's not necessarily a bad thing — if anything, it's evidence that Marching Church know how to create an atmosphere on par with far more experienced songwriters and performers. (Sacred Bones)