You Dont Have To Be Mad
Gang of Four were one of the leading post-punk bands of the late ’70s and early ’80s, fusing an eclectic mix of funk, dub-reggae, punk and new wave elements with lyrics that spoke of societies ills. The English outfit were a hard-edged and politically motivated band that were considered by many to be one of the best at what they did. The ’80s and ’90s saw some lineup changes and a softening of their sound that veered a little toward hard disco and new wave, but the albums kept coming on strong, staying true to what they believed was relevant for the times.
Now the band has just released Content and, by all appearances, this is some of their strongest material to date. I was a bit young to latch onto their music when it first came out, but listening through their catalogue now, I can appreciate their output. Content is great because it captures something visceral and lacking in some of today’s music. There is an unapologetically dated quality to some of the songs that mix well with modern day technological advances. The lyrics come from a place of thought, urging us to look more closely at the holes we dig for ourselves in our undesirable chosen professions (“I Party All the Time”), or at losing touch with our identity in a consumerist-obsessed culture (“Who Am I?”). These are well written songs that don’t rely on smash-mouth anger tactics in order to be affecting. The messages are clearly stated and the music is fun, driving and real. Long time fans of the band will rejoice at this return to form and new listeners will easily be drawn in.