29 March 2019 (released)
10 March 2019
I would guess that the first time I came across The Mekons would have been in one of the University halls in London in 1978 or 1979.
They were always much more aware than the majority of punk outfits of the time – they formed from the same Leeds University group as the Gang Of Four and Delta 5 – and, from memory, they incorporated reggae and African beats in their music much earlier than most. They have since added touches of Country and even Folk to their sound.
So now we come to 2019 and I must admit that I was intrigued to hear how much they had changed in 40 years – or not.
A lot of the songs her have echoes of the band that first emerged in 1977, especially the clever lyrics and the sardonic – almost cynical – vocals but it is clear that in forty years they have developed a real consistent quality to their songs and the band of today has more musical ability than before.
The album was recorded in the desert at Joshua Tree in California and while it has a widescreen reach it also has the feeling of an album recorded in tight proximity to each other. There is little real ‘lightness’ in any songs but the old anger and ‘attitude’ is still there in spades. The guitars are angular and dense and Steve Goulding’s drums give the music a rock solid basis to spring out of. Numbers such as ‘After The Rain’ have a softer feel with violin and harmony vocals ahead of a sharp guitar riff while ‘In The Sun / The Galaxy Explodes’ has the trademark choppy riff and slow build to the musical climax that their live performances always delivered.
It’s a delight to see that the band have emerged from the changes over many years with some of their best music for years and quite astounding to find them as relevant and musically valid as ever.