From their inception in 1977, taking their name from a Chinese Communist political faction associated with Mao Zedong’s widow, Andy Gill and his band Gang of Four have shown that they will not compromise the messages they want to get across with their music. In 1979, Gang of Four refused to replace the original lyric “rubbers” with the word “rubbish” from “At Home He’s a Tourist” in order to perform the charted single on Top of the Pops. Keeping things real led to the single being banned by BBC Radio and TV. Three years later during the Falklands war “I Love a Man in a Uniform” would also be banned by the BBC. Over forty years later, Gang of Four returns with The Complicit EP, a product of adventurous electronic exploration and innovation defined by controversial lyrics. Gang of Four also use visual controversy; “the EP’s cover features Ivanka Trump and a Russian title translation in parentheses.”
The Complicit EP opens with Lucky, an instant attention grabber which is a recipe of Reverend and The Makers and more recent comeback Shed Seven material. The best person to describe Lucky is Andy Gill himself: “This track itself is a product of chance. I’d been watching a serious debate on one of those financial news channels – six white men in suits arguing about the stock markets – and it set me thinking about how limited luck can be.”
Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have) follows Lucky. One finally realises why the EP is labelled Complicit. In April 2017, CBS’s Gayle King asked Ivana Trump whether she with her husband, Jared Kushner were “complicit in what is happening to the White House.” She responded “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” Furthermore “I don’t know what it means to be complicit but, you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly, that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.”
Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have) driven by a twisted, industrial bass introduction before the electronic melodies build into a sound not dissimilar to the Talking Heads mashed with The Kills has some suggestive heavyweight hitting lyrics. For example, “It’s not true that daddy calls my name in stormy weather” with references to “lust and avarice” as well as the unqualified lyric “Daddy loves women and Hebrews in the family”, which is repeated throughout the song.
Complicit, the first released new material by Gang of Four since 2015 also contains I’m A Liar (which contains an impressive synth bass intro, co-produced by Andy Gill and Ross Orton) and a remix of Lucky by 10 O’Clock Chemical. Complicit will undoubtedly hold audience’s attention and influence musicians already established and contemporary, provoke political debate and show that Gang of Four are not musically trapped in their youth.
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