I don’t know what depresses me more: that the world economy teeters on the brink of collapse; Iran seem set on destabilising the region (further) with its pursuit of nuclear weapons; the coalition government is destroying public services; or that this is considered “an urgent state-of-the-world address, an impassioned call to arms” – beyond the musicianship occasionally in evidence here A Flash Flood of Colour is almost irredeemably bad. An album that is shallow, ham-fisted and apparently intent on being hard to love.
It comes across as a steroid abusing vapid blend of bro-step and the uninspired end of metal, bulky and graceless. Miraculously it also simultaneously sounds anaemic, hollow and empty through production that robs it of any visceral power, rough edges or weight. This is a ‘serious’ and ‘political’ album, but its politics are shallow, and as it primarily seems to be an reducio ad infinitum of trite cliché, a paean to Sticking it to The Man. Ill timed ‘humour’ renders it hard to take seriously either.
Ordinarily I avoid being being one of those reviewers who compares back, but pretty much every component of this album has been done better elsewhere and years ago. So for a quick comparison Pitchshifter were angrier, more eloquent and deft at blending metal with electronic music (DnB > bro-step). Cutting Pink With Knives were endlessly inventive, irreverent and intense, forever wrong footing the listener. Million Dead were politically more astute and informed, their earnestness tempered by a sharp lyrical wit. Atari Teenage Riot took their politics seriously and acted on them. And then there is Refused.*
The title, A Flash Flood of Colour, suggests a sudden joyous clarity, an end to black and white monochrome life, love and politics. This album is not that. Lyrically it falls flat right out the gate, with the tortuous extended metaphor of System… via the juvenile wobbly throwing of Ghandi Mate, Ghandi we’re treated to, at best sixth form musing. We also get sub-par skits (incongruous outside Hip-Hop’s self referential, weed clouded pantomime; jarring in the midst of a ‘serious’ album). When they hit upon a good idea and stick to it you can’t help but get carried along, they have a great ear for melody.
Ghandi Mate, Ghandi is the jewel in the crown here. Lazy rhymes, juvenile lyrics (#we don’t need your rules#), an ill advised skit in the middle and politics that suggest a naïve, simplistic and ill informed understanding both of the problems of the world, and the solutions, even a fundamental misunderstanding of terminology – communism vs. self determinism and freedom, utopianism and self actualisation.
That it was produced in Thailand, that mecca of the nu-age, shallow hedonist idiocy is telling. A country riven by political turmoil, real (and deadly) protest is also the new favourite playground of cosseted, Westerners frittering away their student loans (when they aren’t marching for the right to fritter away their student loans, that is). AFFOC is an incoherent and lacking in direction. They risk (and regularly do) come across as sulky bedroom reactionaries rather than revolutionaries. They offer no depth, nor insight; no solutions beyond ‘get angry’ and ‘fuck The Man.’
I can’t deny that their heart is certainly in the right place, I can’t fault attempts to rouse the rabble – I really, really want to agree with what they’re saying, they can certainly play and Rou (Reynolds – Vocals/Electronics) can certainly sing. Unfortunately, AFFOC is an anaemic blend of bro-step and metal that falls short of historic forebears. It isn’t as inventive or interesting as it thinks, and is lyrically and politically stuck in the lower sixth. If meant to inspire a bunch of angry young people to become politicised then that is something I can get behind. If this is the first step on a very important journey, lets just hope the next one takes them in to a library.
*Their manifesto was written when Enter Shikari were barely out of nappies.
This article first appeared on The Fugitive Motel on 23 January 2012