Gang Of Four -‘Content’ (NEU Gronland)
The last time that Gang Of Four released a new studio album, in 1995, Britain was in thrall to Britpop, Tony Blaire seemed like the promised Messiah, and the internet was something that seemed almost like a novelty. ‘Post-punk’ seemed so long ago. And yet, there were bands who had gone on to become amongst the biggest in the world, all of whom were indebted to Gang Of four, and amongst them were Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM and U2.
Fast forward sixteen years. Politically, so much has happened that the final page of Animal Farm resonates ever harder. the internet -mostly for the good – is a powerful force in most people’s lives. And musically? Well, just as at the end of the eighties music critics and journalists started to suggest that Revolver was a better and more important album than Sergeant Pepper, so they have started to argue that post-punk was actually more important than punk; crucially that Metal Box was actually the album that Lydon should have made just two years previously and that Nevermind the Bollocks wasn’t all that important.
And Gang Of Four? Well, Entertainment! sounds ever more like a blueprint for much of what has come under the heading of indie-alterntaive (often morphing into stadium filling) over the last thirty years. It still sounds phenomenal thirty years on. The aforementioned Chilis, REM and U2 have continued to be high profile acts, but along with them, bands like The Rapture, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and Editors have a clear influence that can be traced back to Gang Of Four.
So Gang Of four have their place in the history books. And it’s great to report that their comeback album looks likely to cement rather than detract from that. It isn’t Entertainment! part 2. However, it is better than the pointless rehash that was the Return the Gift album.
What’s great about it is that it is a great album that sounds like a rejuvenated Gang Of Four. Founder members Jon King and Andy Gill have come back with an excellent album that sounds like Gang of four with innovations. ‘It Was Never Gonna Turn Out Too Good’ uses a vocoder to surprisingly but surprisingly good gothic effect. ‘She Said You made a Thing Of Me’ sets out its’ stall as an album opener with impressive effect and ‘I Party All the Time’ sounds like a loud cough to remind U2 where the blueprint for Achtung Baby came from.
The song titles sound classically Gang Of Four, too. This is not the sound of a band desperate for a comback at any rpice or a last hurrah. Rather a band who are reenergised and rejuvenated adding another album to their already fine cannon of work. At thirty five minutes this may seem a short album to some, but there is not fat here, only lean.
Content is released on January 24 on Neu Gronland.