Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
Telling It Like It Is is the second album from Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s Marching Church project, and both have come in the two years since his main band Iceage’s last album. With the previous album, The World Is Not Enough, Rønnenfelt seemed to be blowing off steam, writing some songs with a wider array of topics and recording them in a much looser and more ramshackle way; it made perfect sense to call it a ‘side project’. Now that Marching Church are releasing another album, and Iceage seems to be on the backburner, it would be reductive to use that term anymore.
Marching Church's debut, This World Is Not Enough, burned so brightly, it seemed like it might be the project's only album. Fortunately, though, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and company didn't just keep making music together, they became a full-fledged band. On Telling It Like It Is, Lower's Kristian Emdal and Anton Rothstein, Hand of Dust's Bo Høyer Hansen, Iceage's Johan S.
Elias 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.
A little over a year ago, Marching Church were one of the most unforgiving, scathing, and totally unhinged bands on the planet. Arguably, 2015's The World Is Not Enough was an extension of the vehement frustration that Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's other band, Iceage, are built around; it allowed Rønnenfelt total sonic freedom to despair within. Here, he draws from his work with Vår-crafting an inherently free and oddly infectious LP.
All the world’s a stage to Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Iceage frontman and Marching Church mastermind. The Dane was sporting a death mask when we first met him in the early ’10s—a grungy Hamlet, flailing and wailing beneath the house lights. Championed by Matador, his band ascended, and in time, those tragic poses became more polished, less garish—and on 2014’s ambitious Plowing Into the Field of Love, downright romantic.
There was a slight whiff of emperor’s new clothes when Danish punk band Iceage wowed Pitchfork types in the amorphous post-00s climate, which perhaps explains why other critics wrote off their “carefully nurtured sloppiness” or proved keen to accuse the group of flirting with neo-Nazi imagery. The side-project of singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Marching Church was conceived as a solo venture and is now a fully fleshed-out band. In its strongest moments, the sparse piano poking, spiky guitar lines, existential wailing, skeletal fingerclicks and spooky violins make this white man’s blues reminiscent of Nick Cave’s glorious transition from feral Birthday Party vocalist to more mature Bad Seed.
Marching Church – formerly a solo project of Iceage leader Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, but now a fully-fledged seven-piece – offers an outlet for Rønnenfelt to continue the musical search for self-discovery that initially started with Iceage’s third album, 2014’s Plowing into the Field of Love. Last year’s This World is Not Enough felt very much like a work in progress, but their new album, Telling It Like It Is, is a cocksure nine-track collection of focused and intelligent songwriting. The most obvious change in the band’s sound has been the development of Rønnenfelt’s vocals – he’s become more open with his voice, letting his guard down and even embracing vulnerability with a fragile falsetto in “Lion’s Den”.