Marching Church is hard to classify: moody, romantic, self-induglent, dynamic, and at times, downright unlikable. Telling It Like It Is is the second effort by Elias Bender Rønnenfelt under the moniker Marching Church, with the album released October 2016 via Sacred Bones Records.
Rønnenfelt gained notoriety as the frontman of Copenhagen’s Iceage, who broke onto the American indie scene in the early ’10s as one of Matador Records’ most talked-about acts. The boys of Iceage were barely out of their teens, and their two records, You’re Nothing and Plowing Into The Field Of Love, exemplified the fears and anxieties that go along with becoming a young adult. And to add an even more stressful vibe to the records, the lads purposely rushed to produce them with an intended too little time in the studio. The philosophy: loud, fast, live…pure. Iceage represented the punk rock spirit of capturing a specific moment and presenting it unaltered.
But Marching Church brings a different approach. Part of the aim of Telling It Like It Is is to make the studio an instrument by overdubbing, which may seem a departure from the aesthetic of Iceage. It’s a glossy, velvety album, wherein Rønnenfelt uses his voice as a weapon – cutting you with dramatic yowling, but then smoothing it all over with a comforting croon. Present are elements of glam, kraut, and even goth, giving the record a feel of luxurious disillusionment. It’s like if Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker had a few whiskeys together and belted out songs about their youth. Telling It Like It Is may use the studio in such a way that it may be impossible to recreate live, but Rønnenfelt’s flair for the dramatic will no doubt ensure an unforgettable live show.
What I like about this album: There’s a feeling that begins to creep up on you as you get older, a kind of existential dread telling you haven’t lived your life in the most rewarding way possible. That feeling, of course, varies from individual to individual, and I think Telling It Like It Is is a strange personification of that. Emanating throughout the record is a theme of becoming disenchanted with things you used to find endearing, a cynical stumble into adulthood – which admittedly, in itself, may come across as dismissable juvenile theatrics. But it’s this complex nature of the record that makes it enjoyable.
Marching Church plays Yerberia Cultura on Thursday, January 26. Joining the band will be Québecian electronic artist Bernardino Femminielli. The show is all ages.