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Monday, 30 April 2012

The Levellers - Static on the Airwaves

Time to crack open a celebratory drink as perennial agit-punk folk rockers The Levellers are back with a new album.
The release of Static on the Airwaves is imminent, and while it may seem like only yesterday that the critically acclaimed 'Letters from the Underground' was unleashed on the public - and gave some of us ageing and jaded protester a clutch of new anthems to rally around - it was actually four years ago.
It's entirely possible that I didn't realize the passing of time as the Levellers themselves didn't rest on their laurels in the intervening years.
Instead there was the reissues of the first few albums with bonus tracks, and a spectacular tour to celebrate the anniversary of 'Levelling the Land'.
Obviously it's been busy, busy, busy in the world of The Levellers, but they haven't been that busy that they couldn't manage to find the time to write and record what is their tenth studio album.
It's undoubtedly something of an achievement to reach double figures in album releases for bands now.
It seems that the days of artists having a large back catalogue of material has been left behind with a relentless boom and bust of bands now being the norm.
Yet here are the Levellers bucking yet another trend, and doing it in style.
Admittedly while it may not sound as immediately urgent as Letters from the Underground was, it's certainly no step backwards.
Far from it.
Consider 'Static on the Airwaves' as a more mature collection of songs.
The fire is still there, and it's apparent on every track, but the impression is that they don't feel the need to roar the message any more, and I like that.
It's another facet to them that fans can begin to wrap their heads around.
It feels like we are all growing in the same direction, and at a similar pace.
What we have on display is a more reasoned and incisive level of global commentary that cuts to the bone just as hard as it would if it was the rallying call to arms of old.
The soundtrack to a night of drunken revelry and politics has been dropped, and in its place a more coherent argument for seeking out an alternative to the status quo is advanced.
It's all rather clever in the way it worms its way in and acts as a catalyst to reconsidering your understanding of the world we live in.
So much of it will be considered as preaching to the already converted, but there's never any harm in being reminded that politically while we may feel lost and alone that none of us really are.
I has to be said that one of the albums many strengths is in how the band have used historical tales to mirror current situations in the world.
It's a timely reminder that there is nothing new under the sun and what we are seeing is the age old rise and fall of empires going on around us.
Maybe some young music lovers looking for something new will listen to the album and be able to read the writing on the wall as so many of us did when the Levellers first arrived on the scene all those many years ago.
I sincerely hope so.
In some way the truth still rings out from their albums and it really isn't that difficult to hear.
Place it as the aural backdrop to the wars that are still raging across the world, the ongoing implosion of economies, and how regardless of how bad things get that the continued resilience of the affluent is arrogantly apparent and as a body of work it all makes complete sense.
It's a refreshingly timely release.  

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