Album review by email@example.com
This album from London band NED could have come from a different era, and not just because it's guitar-based in a world of plastic pop. You only need to look at the cover to realise that NED are a band who feel strongly about plenty of the issues affecting our country. It has the appearance of a punk record and the sound is derived from punk, but it incorporates much more. Plus the agenda is a bit more sophisticated; if we look at the year-zero punk of bands like The Sex Pistols they were singing about "anarchy in the UK". Anarchy? No thanks, I'd take peace every day, but this battle for peace and for politicians and companies to be ethical, non-corrupt and create a fair and free society does make you angry as it seems so far away on the horizon. It's this anger that NED tap into on 'A New Normal'.
"I am free!" is repeated over and over on the euphoric chorus of the track that bears its name, and this is what we want. The verses talk about the mundane life that the government expect you to have, like worker bees, all orderly and robotic, going about your business while they monitor your every move. It's not the first time that this planned, routine life is brought into question. The angry opening track is called 'Mass Manipulation', and that alone says it all. 'Made In The UK' isn't about Cornish pasties or Eccles cakes, it's about a new world order, and if that sounds cliched then think about it. What's the EU? Is it not a group of nations joining together to become one, one new nation with increasing power? And aren't we a part of it? The world needs to join together out of compassion, not be forced together for political reasons. They offer hope in the standout 'Don't Let Worry Kill You', because although there's bad in the world, there's good too, and it's worth focusing on this before we all go totally insane. The general "state of the country" is summed up in that song's title: 'Who Shall We Blame?'. Politics, media, public services, banks... it's all always someone else's fault.
These themes are tackled in a way that's meant to rouse and inspire the people, not force them into accepting a way of belief, as this would be completely at odds with the idea of the record. The vocals sometimes snarl and spit but this is out of frustration and having had enough; trying to get people to wake up to the reality of what's happening to them. Musically the touchstones are punk and post-punk, as well as modern protest singers such as Billy Bragg or Lupen Crook, the latter being a good comparison. There's the spirit of Joe Strummer here too. 'A New Normal' isn't half-baked political sloganeering like The Enemy and their ilk have built careers from without actually understanding the subject matter. NED have an understanding of what's happening and drive it into these songs. An easy listen? No, probably not, but it's not supposed to be. However, this album has a message, and this message is delivered in a way that shows intelligence and also a decent level of songwriting. We could do with a few more bands tackling the facts head-on.
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