Marching Church | Telling It Like It Is | 7/10
iceage’s first two albums – unfiltered punk rock – aren’t exactly reminiscent of The Cure, Tindersticks, or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. But, as it turns out, that’s what the Danish band’s frontman, Bender Rønnenfelt, must have been listening to in his downtime. The influences crept in on 2014’s ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’ LP and are all over the new release from Rønnenfelt’s other band, Marching Church.
Originally a solo project – with an output best described as eclectic – it’s now a bonafide group, with six members and focus. Just listen to ‘Let It Come Down’ for proof. The immaculate opening track of ‘Telling It Like It Is’ showcases the singer’s vocal subtleties against a perfectly nuanced backdrop created by Johan S. Weith (electric viola), Jakob Emil Lamdahl (trumpet), Bo Høyer Hansen (guitar), Kristian Emdal (bass), and Anton Rothstein (drums).
With its visceral choruses – searing guitars, impassioned vocals – ‘Up For Days’ finds the band flexing their muscles. ‘Heart Of Life’ is a pretty world-music ditty – check out those ‘Graceland’ guitars – with spoken-word interjections as surprising as they are powerful. And ‘Inner City Pigeon’ upends moments of beauty (those angelic backing vocals, the haunting refrain of “I’m never coming down”, the final 60 seconds) with hints of chaos (some off-kilter drumming, that brief instrumental cacophony around the 4-minute mark).
But it’s the final two songs that best reflect the sense of purpose Marching Church have attained. ‘Information’ progresses from a slow march, punctuated by jagged guitar textures and viola drones, to a protest of bass, drums, and menacing vocals. And in complete contrast – from the slide guitar and Rønnenfelt’s cracking voice to the choral arrangement and harmonica solo – ‘Calenture’ is pure beauty.