PROPAGANDHI: Failed States: CD / LP

The latest album from Propagandhi, and their first on Epitaph, shows the band continuing to delve into their thrash and metal influences. These are not the pop punk days, instead the band follows the pattern of their past few albums with some great guitar riffs and a mix of harsh and melodic vocals. Politics is still key in the lyrics and they haven’t sold out one bit. Propagandhi is as dedicated as ever to their left-wing beliefs and present their arguments and ideas in both intelligent and emotional terms. They always seem so spot on that it adds to the power of what they are writing. While Propagandhi has also been noted in the past for their sense of humor, much of that is gone on Failed States. That’s not to say that it’s all humorless and overly serious (“Things I Like” is a good exception), but the focus is on rocking hard and sharing their political message without beating the listener over the head. Unfortunately, Failed States doesn’t seem to have songs with hooks that grab the listener as on the past few albums. The opener, “Note to Self,” a six-minute tune that explores a quote from author Chris Hedges, stands as an exception. A few other tunes, “Rattan Cane” and “Cognitive Suicide,” seem like material that could have been on past albums, but even after fifteen listens, nothing has jumped out and blown me away like “Supporting Caste” or “Fedallah’s Hearse” did on their past two albums. So that’s pretty much the gist of this review: it’s a good album—not the band’s best, but definitely worth picking up if you’re a Propagandhi fan. Newcomers might be better off starting with one of the two or three previous albums, though.

 –kurt (Epitaph)