Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/532/4088
From The Socialist newspaper, 7 May 2008
Album review: The Bright Lights of America
To me Anti-Flag have always been the quintessential anti-war band. In September 2001 they were half-way through recording an album when the 9/11 events occurred. Like most people the events stunned them.
However, when reactionary rumouring about retaliatory attacks began, they immediately wrote a song against any proposed invasion entitled 911 for Peace, and released the song for free on their website.
I remember them much more for the tour they did in this country against the Iraq war in the beginning of 2003, where they linked up with the anti-war movement and advertised their actions at the gigs on the tour.
Their most recent album, The Bright Lights of America, continues this theme drawing on analogies of the US 'empire' currently bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the decaying Roman Empire in the song The Modern Rome Burning.
The Ink and the Quill is a damning criticism of US imperialism from Chile to Fallujah and counterpoises the money spent in Iraq in the interests of big business, to what would have been needed to repair the levees around New Orleans and reduce the devastation from Hurricane Katrina in that city. Shadow of the Dead points out the legacy of past movements against invasions and occupations.
Alienation and the lack of a future for young people is another theme running through the album. After one of the band's relations was murdered they released a benefit album for victim support charities.
However, rather than sink into the usual reactionary 'law and order' response, If You Wanna Steal shows how capitalism is a system that perpetuates crime and impoverishes many people.
The Bright Lights of America focuses on the limited futures available to people, while Spit in the Face condemns the greed and individualism the system breeds.
Musically, the album is somewhat different to previous albums, using orchestral compositions, child choirs (to great effect in Good and Ready), harmonicas and more, blended in among the band's usual punk/punk-rock style. It mostly works and there is a good variation of pace in the songs, from the incredibly fast Smartest Bomb to the fairly slow (for them) Go West.
If you've listened to their previous albums it comes as a bit of a shock, but it grows on you.
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In The Socialist 7 May 2008:
Coventry: Socialist election success shows the way forward
Meltdown for Brown - but he won't change course
Elections round-up and results
Election victories for class fighters
Racist BNP have no solutions!
Socialist Party news and analysis
Grangemouth refinery: Oil strike wins concessions
May Day marches
Defend abortion rights
TUC attacks Labour on working poverty
Bangor Socialist Students fight tuition fees
Obituary: Ray Apps
Album review: The Bright Lights of America
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
France 1968: Capitalism brought to its knees
How workers and youth are building a Left alternative in France
Sri Lanka: 25 years of war and conflict
May Day Greetings
May Day Greetings 2008 in The Socialist (p4)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p6)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p7)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p9)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p10)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p11)
May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p15)
Socialist Party workplace news
Unison witch-hunt: Defend the four, come to the lobby!
Mark Thomas condemns witch-hunt
'Raising the roof' at Usdaw conference
Support Shelter workers
National Shop Stewards Network second conference
Come to the 2008 Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference
The Socialist 7 May 2008 |
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