January 21st, 2011
NPR is currently streaming IDR (intelligent dance rock) godfathers Gang of Four’s new album, Content. I think it streams until January 25th, so act fast if you feel you MUST sample. And, in my doing just that this morning, I have to recommend it. Maybe not as “required listening” or anything, but definitely as an interesting dub-inflected stark, sharp punk record from a band who deserves much more credit in the pantheon of pioneers than they’re often given credit for. Obviously, nothing will ever come close to the awesomeness of Entertainment! (nor should it, ideally), but if you’re wondering how the band has aged, cure that curiosity. The Gang of Four signatures—Andy Gill’s gritty, glassy and oblique guitars, Jon King’s voice, deep, funky bass lines, even the beloved melodica—are all present and accounted for, but I haven’t quite digested the lyrics yet. The song titles hint at a less acerbic take on the world, but they could just be euphemisms. I JUST DON’T KNOW AT THIS POINT, GUYS, I’M SORRY. If anything, the band seems to be still using their lyrics to impart purposeful meaning, rather than just sound. There is certainly that innate intensity that the foursome has, which comes through easily with these new songs. In short, I’m diggin’ it.
I will caution your ears against one song that uses a vocoder to no avail: “It Was Never Going To Turn Out Too Good”. They probably called that one right, didn’t they? Content will be out in the US January 25th on Yep Roc records. Yay for old bands who don’t suck.
Update: Here’s an interesting quote from King on the album’s title:
Content is a cliché of our days. TV programs, music, and literature all claim to be content. But then there’s another side, about being content. Just that slight pronunciation difference makes it incredibly interesting. Contentment is the last thing we feel. We’re actually pretty anxious and troubled. But from my perspective, we do actually write lyrics about things. They’re not meant to be words that are sounds. They’re meant to have meaning.