Album Review: Content – Gang of Four

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Album Reviews, music
Tags: , , , ,

Care for something to shake off the January doldrums? Oh, yes please! Then isn’t it lucky that Gang of Four have picked this moment to release their first album of new material in 15 years.

Content - Gang of Four

This post-punk band still sounds as vibrantly angular and jagged as they did when they released their first single in 1978, following through the hole in the polyester torn by bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash. It’s cerebral rock that hits you in the head and the gut, and makes you want to get up and move. It’s music that refuses to play quietly in the corner and be ignored.

Gang of Four push the boundaries of the 4/4 structure, drums working in 4/4 but avoiding anything like a danceable beat until we’re three songs into the album, a harsh, metallic, rhythm guitar driving most of the songs, but the overall sound is kind of funky too. The odd shaped gears mesh into a unified whole, and the production lets you hear how clearly how those pieces fit together.

The band seem to be at their best chronicling alienation and dysfunctionality. “Content” continues this focus. The album opens exceptionally well with the tense twitch of “She Said ‘You Made a Thing of Me’ ”, in which she does, because she’s objectified, taken for granted, and fed up. The couple in the next song don’t fare much better, with the man trying to avoid a heated argument and the drummer letting him know he’s making a bad job of it. Track three invites you to dance to your loss of individual identity, singing along with the refrain “Who am I when everything is me?”

Most of these songs uphold the Gang of Four standard of intensity. Things slow down to a near-sweetness, sort of, on “A Fruit Fly in the Beehive”, then to a dirge on the next song, “It Was Never Going to Turn Out Too Good”. Both songs provide a well timed contrast without dragging down the album.

I don’t want to blow this out of proportion: “Content” provides much of what you’d want from a Gang of Four album, and it is a good listen. However, compared to a lot of the new music I’ve been hearing lately, it’s a bloody great listen.

Hear “Content” by Gang of Four

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