YES IT IS. And No it is too.
You read correctly. Yes, xBomb Factory have released an album. It’s called NO and has been a decade in the making.
The story as to why the agit-punk outfit (as I lazily label them) from Cambridge have taken so long to record a full-blown album, and why it has been released by the German label Noisolution is explained in our in-depth interview with frontman Ranting Jack done just last week (read here, https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/bomb-factory-speak-to-porky-prime-cuts/
Anyone familiar with the DIY EPs and demos they’ve seeped out over those years will know that xBF are steeped in the politics of the cynic, the disillusioned and the angry. And for some that will be an immediate turn off. Why, I don’t know as we all huff and puff about the abysmal world we live in, is there any valid reason we can’t listen to a band that actively takes on such concerns.
Otherwise, let’s all live in a Justin Bieber world.
The opening burst, My Name Is Gulliver, contains the clang and the cling of an Au Pairs album from 1981, with Jack’s corruscating chant of the title enough to make small children cower. Gulliver is an everyman figure, someone forced to conform to stereotypes. “My name is a label/ pinned to the door.”
Tapes relates the true tale of man pushed to the very edge by mass surveillance and the assumption that we all could be guilty of … something.
Ranting Jack’s vocal style is a few notches below the point at which a commanding timbre has become an ungainly screech, but he does breach that normally disciplined style on both Interference and Reflected, though this is in the context of the subject matter and the person dissected in the song.
The stand-out track of the album, and their live set, God Loves Us and He Hates You, sounds better than ever, with even a run-out that makes me think of Simple Minds in 1982. This is about the finest expose of right-wing conservatives imaginable, painting odious sects such as the Westboro Baptist Church as hateful tendencies. “Don’t drink or smoke, or be a girl/ Or we will bomb you – straight to hell/ Kill your kids if they’re in the way.” And for Godsake don’t be gay.
Bought Or Sold sparkles with jangular post-punk guitars, pillorying the consumerist society and the banality of the supermarkets, “Is there freedom in the choosing/ Are you doing what you’re told?”. Then there’s the girl who wants the glossy dream and the boy after the chemical thrill, who “thinks it will fill the void”; they are people who are succumbing to the Same Surrender. There is no escaping our dark world, where the worst type of unemployment is the unemployment of the mind. “They’re on the sofa, my life is over,” is the eerie revelation of how the Idiot Box has taken over.
NO is not an easy ride, but it is a fulfilling one. The clatter can be overwhelming, and the bleakness stultifying. But I often felt like that after the Gang of Four’s Entertainment. Among the anger and the cynicism is a manifesto for a better lifestyle and an empowered mindset, the two precursors for a better world. Free your mind and your ass will follow someone once sang (it wasn’t Justin).
The next step for Noisolution and xBF is for a collection of all the material released on demos, EPs and online, that didn’t make it onto the album. How hard would that be?
Buy it at …
Look at the band site …