Gang of Four Content

Gang of Four Content

3.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0

Comments Comments (0)

Two weeks ago, Wire released Red Barked Tree, once again proving their viability as a contemporary band, 30 years after their prime. Gang of Four, who came up in the same scene and strove for a similar brand of smart, prickly post-punk, has a little harder time with the transition to modernity on Content, a weirdly anachronistic album that retains some of the band’s signature qualities while landing on a strange new sound.

Then again, Wire has been sporadically putting out material throughout the last three decades; this is Gang of Four’s first effort in 16 years, and only their third in the last 28. This might partially explain why their newest work, issued as a 10-track, 35-minute outburst, sounds like it belongs somewhere in the late ‘90s. Full of big drums, clunky electronic flourishes, and chugga-chugga guitar breaks, it’s heavier than the band’s ‘80s output and also far clumsier. Yet a little time reveals an album that, if not insistently wry and cool, still has a strong melodic backbone and a similarly intelligent lyrical focus.

In fact, it’s often stunning how uncool Content sounds. It opens with “She Said,” where cheesy guitar atmospherics create a tone that aims for cold aloofness, but ends up sounding like warmed-over industrial rock. “A Fruitfly in the Beehive” fares much better with a more restrained approach, but still seems weirdly stodgy. These, however, are not signs that the band has lost it, only indicators of a kind of newfound fogeyeness, which at least doesn’t involve depressing retreads or trips into dreary genre exploitation.

Further to Gang of Four’s credit, the album feels like a true expression of something, not wedged in the band’s glory days or of the moment, but the exact product they intended to make. There’s a definite coherence to the progression of the songs, which at times sound like variations on Nine Inch Nails or late-era Smashing Pumpkins, still remaining deliciously abstract in their sardonic lyrical bent. Content may not be current or especially brilliant, but it’s a relatively strong product from a group clearly devoted to making music on their own terms.

Release Date
January 25, 2010
Label
Yep Roc
Buy
Amazon