Review: Faintest Idea- Increasing the Minimum Rage (TNS)

Posted: May 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Increasing The Minimum Rage cover art

I know ska, I know punk, and I know ska punk. I know Oi. But never before have I heard ska oi until today. Faintest Idea, hailing from the port town of Kings Lynn in Norfolk, are a pretty fucking unique band in this world, and that should be treasured. Too many bands set out to sound like other bands that they think are popular, and we end up with a boring sea of sameness. Faintest Idea turn this trend on its head with tight, energetic ska music blended with tough working class oi, and the result is nothing short of astounding. And, while most ska bands, and even ska punk bands, are generally about fun times, Faintest Idea inject a heavy dose of economic, social, and political justice into their lyrics and in the “found-sound” recordings between some of the songs.

The album begins with ominous music from trombone and saxophone and a sound clip from the film, “A King in New York,” in which Charlie Chaplin has a dialog with a boy about the book he’s reading, something by Karl Marx. “Surely you’re not a communist,” chuckles Chaplin. “Do I have to be a communist to read Karl Marx?” comes the reply. “That’s a valid answer. Well, if you’re not a communist, what are you?” retorts Chaplin. “Nothing,” replies the boy. “I dislike all forms of government.” Thus the stage is set, and a dark ska number, “Circling the Drain,” begins, with heavy dose of Oi coming from the tough, gruff vocals and hard edged feel. The lyrics speak to the endless cycle of those in power dismantling programs that benefit the masses (the creeping privitisation of the NHS in Britain was the inspiration), discontent brewing, and a “straw man” being set up to shoulder the blame of the ills of society, usually immigrants or minorities.

“Down Pressure starts out with a clip from Felonious Monk’s rage about the debt ceiling in the US. “How the fuck do you owe China, B? How can I tell my daughter, with a straight face, that Capitalism is a better system than Communism when we’re borrowing all our fucking money from the biggest communist country on the fucking planet?” A funky bass line segues into perfect ska, with lyrics about the seeming hopelessness of, well, everything going on in the world.

“Stick ‘Em Up (Lords of War)” is a commentary on gun control and gun violence, taking clips from the film “Lord of War.” “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: how do we arm the other eleven?” The song is about, not only the pointlessness of war, but of the disgusting fact that much war is driven by the desire for war profits from arms manufacturers. Musically, this is one of the hardest tracks on the album, with explosive guitars and vocals matching the explosiveness of the topic.

Other songs deal with the destruction of the environment, homelessness and drug abuse, the insanity of corporate personhood and greed, and other similar topics. It’s fucking refreshing to hear something this political again. And, while, ultimately, protest songs never convert anyone, they do raise awareness and can fuel movements that can create change. So more power to Faintest Idea! This is a brilliant album, lyrically and musically.

PS

Check it out here: https://faintestidea.bandcamp.com/album/increasing-the-minimum-rage

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s