I was sad to hear that this band recently broke up.

England was their first, and it looks like, only full length album. With the aim to “shine a light on the worst this country has to offer”, it is a very pessimistic release whose purpose is seemingly to express the agitated malaise of those living in modern England.

Coming out in Summer of 2020, England got a lot of play from me. Although the US and UK are not the same, we obviously have a common language and there is crossover with a lot of other stuff. I think we also share a general unease, a sense of decline accompanied by a real difficulty of how to express this, much less come up with any real solutions.

In both our countries, what does get expressed happens through conspiracy theories, far-right politics and culture war nonsense. There are some exceptions, of course. Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism book and Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation documentary make heroic attempts to create a language of these times. On this side of the Atlantic, Luke O’ Neil’s Welcome to Hellworld columns, or occasionally the Chapo Trap House podcast, have made contributions. But for the most part, these are niche works, not known or shared by the majority of people or even really represented in popular culture.

England doesn’t really try to explain why things are the way they are. Instead it describes how things are the way they are. Aiming with scathing rage at the Conservative Party, the British far-right, exploitative employers, the rich, cartoonish machismo and nationalism, this is an album by a band that had a lot of anger to get off its chest.

While the lyrics jump between first person from the perspective of an unsympathetic other and first person from the perspective of the singer/band, those who are described are all either bystanders, victims or perpetrators. There are no agents of change, no positive vision of the future and no prospective saviors.

This is a hardcore group playing post-punk with garage punk around the edges. That said, “Drudge” and “Minimum Wage” could easily be by an oi band. The overall negativity of the album rivals anything that a moody darkwave band  could produce. What I’m trying to say is that this band has wider appeal than the genre they’re part of. One of the better albums of this decade.

FOR FANS OF: If Crown Court, The Hives and the B-Boys got in a bar fight and those left standing started a new band inspired by the lyrics of Gang of Four’s “I Love A Man In Uniform”.

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