In a momentous week for politics, I thought I would start this review by collating the things that I have learned on the subject in the past seven days:
Barack Obama still has the ability to sound dignified even when having a little bit of a dig at Donald Trump (or, as he shall henceforth be known, COTUS – Comma Of The United States).
As well as taking swipes at climate change, abortion, Mexico, etc, COTUS clearly also has taken umbrage at people dancing to Frank Sinatra and, in almost his first act as President, ensured that no-one would ever be doing that again without the faint taste of vomit hitting the back of their throat.
Hate has a wonderful power to galvanise. Seeing people embark en masse in the name of women across the world filled my heart with a gladness for humanity that I haven't felt in a long time.
Piers Morgan truly is the culmination of a campanologist's kit. More a confirmation than a revelation but seeing him and Cleverdicks devouring their spite-soaked opinions as if they were honey-glazed ribs was a sickening disgrace. At least it gave us the opportunity to see Ewan McGregor snub him with a ferocity normally reserved for 'no nudity' clauses.
This Morning proved that, amazingly, not even two Donald Trump impersonators could bring any humour to the plight of millions of people fearing for the future of their country (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft_8Qpc-Yuo). I hope whomever was responsible for this at ITV is filling in a Monster application as we speak.
One band not focussing on getting their current political updates from horrendous daytime TV shows are Canadian outfit Austra who have graced us with their third studio album, Future Politics. Despite apparently being written prior to the startling political events that marked the culmination of 2016, the album still speaks to those with their hearts set on change. Much of the album is directed towards questioning the political convention that governs our society. Title track Future Politics questions the effectiveness of capitalism and how rich we need to be in order to stop thinking selfishly and start protecting the greater good. Utopia longs for a world where actions have meaning as opposed to the homogeneous society that we inhabit where people have become so disassociated from the value that they bring.
There is also a noticeable comment on the technological advances of the world. Deep Thought, famously the computer created in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to generate the answer to all life, is a short instrumental piece featuring a synthesised harp which serves to illustrate the extent to which technology can now replace almost any human experience. The dangers of this are further explored in Gaia, an ode to the Earth. Gaia was the mother of all things in Greek mythology, a symbol for nature, and it is startling to think that our greed has impacted so heavily on something that has existed for far longer than our species (despite COTUS' protestations to the contrary).
I must admit that, musically, the album didn't do as much for me as the politics did. There are some intoxicating vocals that swoop to shrilling highs and plummet to intense lows. I found the backing music distracting though. It varies too frequently between simplistic and overly-complex and takes away from the message being conveyed. Without the lyrics, the album is nothing special yet too often the focus is placed upon directionless melodies that overpower the meaning. It's a shame because, with a little more polish, I think there could be something really spectacular here.
In November, we reviewed American Boyfriend, the second album by Kevin Abstract. Also politically charged, it showed us the changing world from the point of view of a minority trapped in a society becoming more hostile by the day. Future Politics deals with a bigger picture view of the landscape and its overall message can be summed up in opening track We Were Alive. We are trapped inside a prison of our own creation – one built of apathy and disengagement. We are 'torpid' and 'moribund'. But 'what if we were alive?'. What kind of world might we shape if the playing field were levelled and the traditional obstacles to political influence were removed? What kind of society could we bring to the fore if everybody had a hand in its construction? One can only hope that, one day, we might find out.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric of the week
“There's still a hole somebody needs to fill”
Trump is here to stay
If Austra have a say, we
might find Utopia
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