Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Written by: PP on 27/09/2012 15:17:41
"Failed States" is the sixth studio album by the critically acclaimed political punk band Propagandhi. It's also their most ambitious effort to date, a culmination of the at times overwhelmingly complex attitude to songwriting the band took on 2005's "Potemkin City Limits" and 2009's "Supporting Caste" taken a step further. It's an album so complex it consumes its listener into a void of politically charged intellectualism and a horde of innovative, inimitable song structures that leave the confines of punk rock far behind and enter the stratosphere compared to what other bands are doing in the genre.
They do this through swift tempo changes and odd time signatures that are characterized by explosive songs that break into hardcore punk and melodic hardcore, only to return to a more contemplative form of melodic punk with Chris Hannah's sublime vocal and lyrical work leading us through the chaos. Except it's not really chaos, because everything about "Failed States" has been though through to the most intricate detail, hence every riff and every technical guitar passage is an intensely dense and grating listen. And for some, this may be too much: this isn't a poppy punk album with catchy riffs and melodies, though "Devil's Creek" and "Lotus Gait" do have some fairly bright melodies. You'll get tracks like "Hadron Collision" which are raw hardcore pieces in the middle that recall the 80s era of the genre; certainly the heaviest material Propagandhi has written to date.
Instead, "Failed States" is an album which requires your full, unbridled attention to even the most minute of detail before you'll starting 'getting' the album. Ultimately, that is also its most significant pitfall. It's easily the most intelligent and complicated punk rock album released since, funnily enough, their previous album, but it's also a difficult listen. Some of their fiercely pointed social and political commentary is lost in the abyss of technicality and ambitious songwriting that occasionally makes its listener feel inadequate of listening to this PhD grade punk rock: three weeks into listening to the record, I still feel like I haven't fully absorbed everything that "Failed States" has to offer. So while the record has some of the tightest and most intricate material Propagandhi has written to date, it does feel a little overkill compared to the more subdued complexity of especially "Potemkin City Limits", but also 2009's comparatively more complicated "Supporting Caste". Of this trio of great albums, "Failed States" is clearly the most inferior.
Download: Rattan Cane, Lotus Gait, Things I Like
For the fans of: A Wilhelm Scream, Atlas Losing Grip, Templeton Pek, The Shell Corporation, Rise Against
Release date 04.09.2012