There are few bands who offer solace, social commentary and sober reflection all at once, but Pop Will Eat Itself manage to do so with polished aplomb with their new album Anti-Nasty League.
Solace is maybe an odd choice of word, but it comes to me in several forms. There is the comfort of intelligently vocalised shared views with which to identify. There’s a power current of gloriously blended chaotic sound which will strip away your tensions and affirm your belief in right. Not least, there’s the welcome visit from long admired musicians who believe in what they say and how they say it.
Whatever the society Nasty you dislike most, PWEI combat it in this album with humour sly and dry. Lyrics with a needle sharp point may leave you breathless, but they will make you consider whether you already agree or not. ’21st Century Civil War’ sets the tone with an anthemic list of bigotries and elitisms guaranteed to stir the blood. ‘They Can’t Take (What You Won’t Let ‘Em Have)’ continues the message for a crowd that will be moshing within seconds. ‘Middle East Street Party’s dig at the puppet masters of corporate globalisation is perfectly aimed and balanced. ‘Watch The Bitch Blow’ from the EP will leave you in little doubt of political leanings. You’re assaulted by sound as much as the lyrical target is assaulted by beautifully worded disdainful contempt – always a strength.
The words are backed by the relentless synergetic communion of samples and instruments – as relentless as the sentiments ‘Digital Meltdown’ is head banging heaven, whilst Mental Pollution becomes hypnotic in the treatment of the vocals. Here and there those vocals lend a calm surreal counterpoint to the music – ‘(War Inside) My Stupid Head’ and poignancy to ‘Set Sail for Death’. ‘Sacrifice and Pain’ has a Kinks/Small Faces influence, with an intro that made me smile – that’s as near as you’ll get to a PWEI ballad. ‘King Kisser’ is the one that struck me most for its change of mood, and if you want a brilliantly evil song for an earworm, ‘Director’s Cut’ is going to do all sorts of things to your memory banks.
PWEI, for the uninitiated, have a history of the highest calibre, which has morphed and turned over the years from 80’s pop grebo to combine more genres and influences, lives and experiences, technology and reality. They’ve never been purely political, but always keenly relevant to music and issues.
So… drown yourself in politics, observations, and fathoms of sound, and retune your social crusade soul. You’ll have fun while the bits of you shrivelled by the world finally die and drop off.
And come to some gigs this month. They are WELL worth it.