Politics. With a capital P. The stuff is all the rage these days. What with Green Day and Fat Mike riding the ‘fuck Bush’ bandwagon all the way to the bank it’s clear that dipping a toe or two into the way the world works is now worth more than a clear conscience. There’s money to made in them there polls.
‘Us Against The Crown’ is most definitely a political record. There are songs about the ongoing war in Iraq, the importance of voting and the rights of the poor, elderly and disabled. For State Radio though, this isn’t about shifting units, it’s about trying to create awareness and make some changes. This isn’t marketable pop or headline-stealing spleen-venting punk either. The main sound of ‘Us Against The Crown’ is laid-back rock and reggae. Like Matisyahu recently, this band condenses their woes into soft-groove radio-fodder. It’s the sort of smooth-on-the-outside, hard-on-the-inside mix that will have people flicking through the lyrics booklet to double check they just heard such vehement comment amongst such laid-back music.
The sunny sound means this can’t possibly be all doom and gloom. And in fact, if you search a little deeper, there are a few looks towards the promise and potential of the future (presumably a future where everybody listens to State Radio) and even a song about love. It’s in these moments though that the band display their worst qualities, sounding as dull as Audioslave, like Rancid at their least effective or worse, like happy-happy-joy-joy chart-monkey Jack Johnson. These are defiantly vintage licks though. Which, while very warm and pleasant sounding and valiantly in line with the music’s age-old inspiration, don’t exactly inspire feelings of revolution. More like feelings of falling asleep in a hammock somewhere in the nice part of Jamaica.
There is room for State Radio to really blow up. Hell, if Rage Against The Machine were around today they’d be the biggest band in the world. But it’s Rage’s vitriolic, impacting and immediate messages and not this band’s quiet mumbles that are really needed. There’s nothing terribly wrong with State Radio’s sound but rebellion has never sounded so redundantly nice.
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