Album #114: Austerity – Anarcho Punk Dance Party

  • Released: 2019
  • Origin: Brighton, England
  • Label: Every Man His Own Football
  • Best Track: Occupation

It’s quite depressing realising how many albums I missed last year. I wonder what’s going on right under my nose that I’m missing right now and won’t discover until 2022 or later?

Brighton band Austerity dropped their debut album in late 2019, and from the name of the band and album alone, you probably don’t need me to tell you what genre of music this is. This is a rousing, squawking blast of politically charged angst, with guitar crashes intermingling with aggressive saxophone tootles.

I’ve seen comparisons between Austerity and the likes of Gang of Four and Fugazi. A more obscure reference I’d point to is Capdown, who kicked up a right kerfuffle in the British ska-punk scene of the ’00s.

I’ve picked out ‘Occupation’ as the best track as it’s what they do in a nutshell – hard-edged sax blasts, corrosive guitars and lingering, in-your-face vocals. The Fugazi (and certainly Devo) influence is perhaps more notable on the stop-start, offbeat time signature of ‘Nice Guy’.

If there is a criticism to be made of this otherwise fine debut, it’s the same one I made of Kaput’s first album – that it overstays its welcome a bit at nearly 40 minutes. For fast-paced, chaotic punk, I think half an hour is enough as a rule, and some tracks here continue to the four-minute mark when we’ve got the gist of it in half that time. In fairness to the band, they do try to up the intensity and madness as songs go on, achieving this really well on ‘Glass House’, but ‘Capital’ is a song that adds nothing to the album for me and should’ve been left in the studio.

Nonetheless, Anarcho Punk Dance Party is a great statement and a timely one too – at least at the time of its release, if less so now. With the Tories sure to use COVID-19 as a get-out-of-jail-free card for Brexit and all the other stuff they would have completely buggered up anyway, it’s vital that we continue to stick two fingers up at them.

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