Social issues have long been a part of our musical heritage. In the ‘60s and ‘70s when the Vietnam Conflict raged, it was music that kept it at the forefront of our consciousness. During the discontent of the ‘70s, a growing list of artists and bands crafted whole albums about injustice, unrest, disinterest, and the evident decay of our environment. Some of rock’s most historic, and enduring songs have come from bands that addressed these social issues within their lyrics. The fact that these bands were musical powerhouses with great live performances made them legends in many cases. The Clash is one such band that springs to mind quite easily.
In 2007, an English band by the name of The Enemy (The Enemy UK in the US) released their debut album, We’ll Live And Die In These Towns. Simply based on the band’s live shows, the album shot up to #1 on the British charts within the span of a week. The Enemy UK, with Tom Clarke (guitars/piano/vocals) at its helm along with Liam Watts (drums), and Andy Hopkins (bass), began a fast climb to success.
The debut album spawned a series of tracks that included the realization of being trapped in “We’ll Live and Die In These Towns,” the bleak picture of vicious circles in “This Song Is About You,” and the dissatisfaction of a traditional way of life in a working class town heard in “Away From Here.” All of the album’s songs were delivered with conviction in a Jam-like post punk style.
In 2009, the band returned with their next album, Music For the People. Despite being critically downplayed, Music For The People still achieved a #2 ranking on the UK charts. Even so, the band’s sophomore effort merely collected Gold status while the magnificent debut was awarded Platinum status (sales of one million units). Music For The People was a noticeable change in several ways with the band attempting to expand on their presentation. Musically, the songs employed a more pop/punk sound.
Defensively, Tom Clarke had this to say about Music For The People: “I don’t think my politics have changed. We’ve just got a broader perspective. We only ever wrote about the world around us.” He continued with, “There’s a place for what we say, but it’s down to the individual lyricist. You can’t find an issue for the sake of it. And you need colorful bands like MGMT and Klaxons anyway, particularly in a recession, when you want escapism.”
After the release of the last album, the band went dark. It wasn’t until 2011 that the band announced that they were working on their third album with a definite return to the sound of We’ll Live And Die In These Towns. The band has taken to the social arena with a consistent barrage of information via their FaceBook page, and a steady stream of Twitter tweets focused on keeping the concerned fan base involved. It seems to have worked as excitement has built for the new album.
While I haven’t heard a single track from the band’s next album, planned for the first quarter of 2012, the memory of the debut still rings true. That album was a brilliant work beginning to end. Music For The People was not bad, it just didn’t have the intensity of the first. If the new album truly returns to the intensity of the first, it makes a strong case for your attention, especially if post-punk is one of your musical pleasures.