Unsigned or signed the baby band Life is a force to be reckoned with; they hold great potential in reviving the Punk Genre for the 21st Century. Their debut album “Popular Music” launches on May 26th and displays a classic Punk disgust with the current abysmal political situation and cultural swill. Accurately labeled as Angry Young Things they convey in their music their home town Hull’s difficulties and their dismay at the city being given the title of 2017’s UK City of Culture.
From the first note of the release you can practically hear the collective eyeroll from the band about that honor. “Popular Music” is a mixture of hundred mile an hour pacing blended with a traumatic thousand yard stare of disbelief. The band shows an instinctual aptitude in tapping into all the frustration and anger of the times.
Life was formed in February of 2013 in Hull, UK. The band consists of Mez Sanders Green on vocals, Luz on bass, Mick on guitars and Stew on drums. Mez and Mick are the main songwriters for the quartet. Life has garnered a significant following of fans with their live gigs. The gigs are renown for being filled with wild abandon and where Life blend their 21st century sensibilities with Punk stylings. “Popular Music” was produced by Grammy Award winner Ian Darling at the Fish Factory in London. “Euromillions” their first single release in January of this year, displays a band that pulls no punches in calling things as they see them.
Life on “Popular Music” captures the underlying uncertainty of our current world, channeling all that anger, restlessness and tension out the speakers with their sound. The first song on the release, “In Your Hands” is like a jolt of electricity on a song that is shot through with punk aggression. The track takes as its topic the idea that you do have an individual responsibility for what is going on; be it your vote, health or social interactions. It reminded me of a 21st century Punk version of Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier” without the computerize vocal. It is an impressive beginning to the release.
“Sugar God” Continues apace doubling down on the Punk ethos. If you loved Punk or at least remember it you will love this track. It calls to mind visions of mosh pits and pogoing around the room. “Sugar God” as one can quickly gather from the title lyrics attacks modern idolization and religion as an opiate. “Go, Go , Go “ is a track that makes a glorious racket and keeps to the Punk tenet of short but sweet, packing a hell of a wallop in only 1:51 length. Just when you think you have tied the band into one musical approach “Rare Boots” unspools displaying another facet of the band. The song delves into the style and phrasing of bands like The Dexters and Drowners. Other songs that display Life as more than a one note group are “Membership Man” which has another great tempo changeup and “Earthworm” which has an engaging Devo/B52’s vibe that is fetching.
The title track “Popular Music” again blends some amazing antecedents’ sonics, this time Manic Street Preachers and Gary Numan. The song starts with a spoken intro and then jumps into a totally punked out examination of the state of popular music today. This is definitely the strongest track on the album but is surprisingly very approachable.
“Electricity” and “Bababa” both display the band again working in their true stylistic wheelhouse. Both songs are like touching a live wire and are loaded with clever politically charged lyrics. The chorus of “Electricity” will certainly catch on when performed live with the potent lyric “Beat me, beat me harder”; which refers to society’s masochistic relationship with politicians and government. “Bababa” is as alluring with a slightly more dissolute and trippy instrumentation. The final track and first single is the timely “Euromillions” which has all the markings of classic Pixies inspiration. The song is the most political of the album and that is saying something. It takes on Trump, border walls and other hot buttons. There can be no dissembling with a lyric like “you’ve got the right to bear arms, if you have the right colored arms, on the right side of the wall.” It would sound like the album is relentlessly political but the genius of the band is how they present the subject matter; using Punk allure and refreshing directness to get their point of view across to the listener.
Life has got a fire in their belly and the visceral fortitude to go with their convictions. There are some rough edges but time and experience will smooth them out, or maybe we should all hope they don’t. You may not entirely agree with all of their political tenets but you can never doubt their sincerity. The current world situation calls for the reemergence in the popularity of political inspired bands like Life and the most excellent Sleaford Mods. They keep us aware not allowing us to hide from the inconvenient reality of the world. “Popular Music” is a great start for a promising band.