21 September 2020 (released)
21 September 2020
Never a group to do things by halves or even thirds, Young Knives have circumvented the traditional PR approach by anatomising and contextualising their new LP. Not only have they ‘given’ it away on a daily basis they have also broken down the thinking, mechanics and messages behind the album, a soul-baring and whole-sharing of motives and intentions. In an epoch of manipulated messages and fabricated facts this novel approach to narrative control ensures that interpretation is corralled. Or does it?
This review is brought to you as a combination and concoction of individually collective observations and statements informed by both I and the band’s insights. Spot the joins.
On their fifth album, ‘Barbarians’ (their first in seven … long … years), the brothers Dartnell (cousin-drummer Oliver Askew has amicably left the building) take stock, reassess and philosophise the sorry states of human existence as only they can.
The album thematically decries the lack of progress human beings have made (with only a couple of millennia to work on it) with a (s)elect few (the embedded and sedimented patriarchy) still pulling the societal strings of the many that only serves to enable and encourage the human capacity for unpleasantness.
Dating back to 2005’s ‘Voices of Animals and Men’ recurring themes of Young Knives’ work are the fine line between man and beast, civility and barbarism and the eternal negotiation between individualisation and integrationisation (sic).
As ‘The Society for Cutting Up Men’ (inspired by Andy Warhol gun-woman Valerie Solanas’ manifesto) despairingly opines ‘the scum of the Earth will rise to the top … again’. Twas ever thus.
At times the pair seem to be channelling John Lydon and PIL’s dub-textualism with God-forewarning and organised religion as toxic creeds and dogmatic screeds especially in the lines “we’re gonna be your holy war … we won’t make shows just silent plays”. The hidden hands of hypocrisy forever stalk the Earth.
That said the barbarian resides within everyone and all and with the dominance of mobile social media that malevolent streak driven by base feelings of insecurity and envy seems to pollinate and permeate the brainwaves of billions: algorhythmically aggravated, divided then conquered by ill-thoughts and engineered resentments.
‘Swarm’ questions the ‘idea’ of freedom which sits at odds with the ‘realities’ of it. If your behaviour inadvertently impacts upon an-other then arguably liberty and freedom are being invaded and impinged upon. A natural domino effect is enacted
‘Jenny Haniver’ is a folk-horror fable that has been gestating for approximately ten years (it also reminds of the late Nick ‘Gravenhurst’ Talbot in its ethereal-eeriness). A pulsating hypnotic throb is the pendulum that covertly commands you to either ‘drop dead or fall asleep’. This is the kind of song filmmaker Ben Wheatley would deploy in a psycho-illogical scene.
‘I am awake’ is a Gothic rejoinder to the fact that 'life is suffering/suffering' is life with the meditative musing of make the most of what you have, as what you don’t and may desire is no guarantee of anything.
Where most obviate and stagnate in the pursuit of commercialism, Young Knives innovate. Never a group to rest on their laurels or worry about their garlands, forever moving forwards and ahead to the boundaries, as looking backwards negates clarity of vision.
Once again Young Knives proffer a profoundly palatable philosophical platter packed with hip-pop-perfection, punk-polemic, prog-aggression, prophesising plunderphonics and perceptive-proselytising.
‘Barbarians’ is OUT NOW!