Marching Church - The World Is Not Enough
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Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is an undeniably big personality, but he's also revealed himself to be a surprisingly versatile one. With Iceage alone, he's traversed glowering punk and twangier, acoustic territory; with Vår, he excavated and resuscitated industrial's grimiest roots. On Marching Church's debut album, This World Is Not Enough, he goes all in on a perfectly imperfect interpretation of soul -- one of the biggest musical risks he's taken. Though it may be a little more suave than his previous projects thanks to the brass and strings provided by a cast of Danish rabble-rousers including Lower's Kristian Emdal and Anton Rothstein, Marching Church's approach is so grandiose that it becomes punk once again. "King of Song" nods to James Brown and "Young Americans"-era Bowie in its glorious wildness, taking a children's choir into its sweep; "Your Father's Eyes" is part '60s soul and part seance in the way Rønnenfelt's vocals seem to be dragged out of him. As he explores the all-consuming nature of desire on This World Is Not Enough, he recalls some of rock's other fearless outsiders: a bit of Alan Vega's tremble creeps into his voice on "Hungry for Love"'s ecstatic anguish, while his bug-eyed, raw-throated attack on "Living in Doubt" recalls Nick Cave (and like Cave, he sounds so committed here that doubt seems like it would be utterly foreign to him). Marching Church's playful improvisatory streak makes the album's intensity and mood swings all the more thrilling, especially on "Calling Out a Name" and "Every Child (Portrait of Wellman Braud)," where the band bends jazz to its own whims. Yet the album has a tender side too, albeit a slightly unsettling one; "Dark End of the Street" captures the kind of dead-of-night romance that's all the sweeter for its stumbling sleepiness. Throughout This World Is Not Enough, Rønnenfelt plays with rawness and sophistication and gets to have both on his own terms. In its own way, its uncompromising, jolie laide mood makes it one of his most truly punk projects, and a cult classic in the making.