When it comes to politics in the music scene of the 21st Century there are not many exponents you can name. The Manic Street Preachers, heirs to The Clash, have left their polemic behind; The Specials came and went again a few years ago; there is quite simply a void where once there was none.
Step forward John Robb and his band, Goldblade. Self-proclaimed as a “Punk rock soul power revolutionary R’n’R combo”, they are quite simply punk for the difficult teen years of this century.
Punk is as punk was; musically simplistic but full of impression and impact. Here you’ll find nothing new. But lyrically, they are current. Robb takes inspiration from the current politicial situation here in the UK and lays it bare for all to hear.
The opening song, This Is War! is one hell of a statement. Not so much a manifesto, it is a left-wing look at how the lay of Britain’s land is right now. Considering that this is the week in which the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke, and the news debate is mostly filled with her legacy, then you can see the gestation of this whole album.
Musically speaking the most disappointing song here is Serious Business, a faux-reggae dub mistake in my opinion. Robb’s vocals (not his strongest suit) are unintelligible, and unfortunately the cod-patois opening is laughable. If this song wasn’t on the album, you wouldn’t be thinking it was missing anything, let’s put it that way.
The rest of the album never falls so low.
We’re All In It Together, the video of which you can see here, is another overt attack on the current Government – in the video each member of the band is wearing a David Cameron facemask. Subtlety isn’t the point of The Terror Of Modern Life.
Whilst the subject matter is serious, there is a sense of fun lurking under the rhetoric. Psycho Takes a Holiday takes the pisstake award for the line “Axis of Evil/Psychotic treacle”. I had to go back to the start of the chorus to make sure I hadn’t mis-heard!
There is also a feeling of unease present, even amongst the fun. It took me several listens to figure it out; whilst this is punk, there are times where the path of the music goes off the beaten path. For example My Mind is Like an Atom Bomb speeds up almost imperceptibly after the first chorus.
The end track, which is eponymous, is 8 minutes of venom. A fitting end in my mind.
If there is one more criticism I might make, it is this; the world moves so fast that there is the possibility that in six months time The Terror of Modern Life might be outdated, its message obsolete. Even if this does occur, then at least it stands as a monument against the state of Britain today.
The Terror of Modern Life by Goldblade is released on 20th May on Overground Records.