via NY Daily News
GANG OF FOUR
C O N T E N T
Article Rating ****
By Jim Farber
After 16 years, brainy moralism is as hot as ever.
They’re one of music’s great game-changers. Thirty-three years ago, Gang of Four arrived armed with the two key elements you need to inhabit that role: a revolutionary sound and the good fortune to introduce it right when the scene needs it most.
Right at the time when punk backed itself into a corner, confined by its speed and bile at the end of the ’70s, GOF came along with a new beat, a different texture and a signature point of view.
Countering the revved-up rock rhythms of punk, GOF chopped its beats up into a jump-back style that suggested funk on speed. They also whittled punk’s slashing guitar riffs into serrated shards, and refocused punk’s politics from anarchy to Marxism.
Small wonder the legacy of Gang of Four not only lived on, but inspired several entire movements, from the ’80s rock-funk of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and INXS to the neo-’80s staggered-rock of more recent bands, like the U.K.’s Franz Ferdinand or Brooklyn’s the Rapture.
What better time for the Gang to finally get itself back into the studio than now? Though the group has done many tours over the years, and re-recorded their classic hits in 2005, they hadn’t cut a disk of entirely new material in 16 years.
Only two of the original Gang remain. Happily, they’re the main ones (singer Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill), joined on C O N T E N T by a recently employed rhythm section.
Naturally, the new music can’t have the shock value of their original ground-breakers. But it proves them far more adept at the balance of rock and funk than any of their successors (some who took as much from Duran Duran as from the Gang, unfortunately).
GOF’s music still delivers its funk with a no-sex-please-we’re-Marxists irony. It’s rigid and white, lacking even a hint of sensuality. But it’s driven by enough fury to exude all the passion it requires. Gill’s guitar riffs regain their itchy angularity and their flinching interchange with the bass and drums. It’s the sound of contempt, redeemed by catchiness and kick.
As always, the band’s lyrics treat love as just another act of consumption. Starting from the early single “Anthrax” – comparing love to an airborne illness – Gang of Four has treated romance witheringly enough to make Morrissey seem downright besotted. Similarly, the band’s politics retain their youthful reductiveness, viewing empathy as an empty gesture and identity as a construct corrupted by society’s ills.
What keeps these theoretical accusations from seeming priggish is the poetry and wit of the words. GOF’s rare mix of the fascism of love and the lust of politics has served them well over the years. So has their essential sound, which more than three decades later still has the power to turn brainy moralism into music hot enough to make you dance.
See the original article HERE.