Politics and Love
Using an early 20th century Labour Party poster calling for workers to rise up and destroy the House of Lords as the front cover, Bleeding Hearts, clearly, are a band who wear their ideological heart on their sleeve.
Starting with an imam singing out his evening call to prayer, the bass creeps into the mix with a sinister melody while the vocals gradually morph into their poignant message. With the title ‘War on Terror’ and displaying clever lines like ‘So come on tell what is new cus’ it’s jihad déjà vu. The only thing that’s changed is the US has it too’ you get the feeling it probably didn’t take Bleeding Hearts too long to come up with the album title.
‘Patriotic Crap’ sees the arrival of some riffing, Darkness-esque guitars overlaid with a fiddle kicking out ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. Whether this works musically is questionable, however it’s almost irrelevant as you are drawn again into the perceptive lyrics questioning why we should be proud to be English; celebrating Imperial wars, racist football fans wearing sweatshop produced shirts; the lying right wing press and using cultures we don’t understand as scapegoats for our own failings are all brought into question. That said, its the angry, bouncy chorus and the guitar driven verse which inject the song with bags of energy making it one of the strongest on the album.
Of course this sort of thing has all been done before, from Bob Dylan to Billy Bragg, and invariably brings up that time old question – can music and politics really mix? Well this ain’t Question Time and I’m no Bono, but unable to resist having a minor rant, what I would say is when the mainstream media consistently present the only side of the story the government and corporate Britain want you to hear, it invariable leaves only the alternative means of communication to get a message across. And for that reason alone, in my opinion, music and politics are worthy, and essential, bedfellows.
However, arguments about the mic being mightier then the sword to one side, there is no doubting that the quality of the music is just as essential as the lyrics in getting people to sit up, listen and have a bloody good dance at the same time. Bleeding Hearts are fully aware of this and have jumped on the same convoy as the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army, with their take on folk fuelled, punk-tinged rock.
With such established acts as clear influences its probably no surprise to Bleeding Hearts as to the yardsticks used to judge their work. Fortunately though, on this, their 4th album, they come off reasonably well.
‘Anxiety’ asks more moral questions but this time of themselves rather us. It’s another guitar driven song with an excellent bassline that’s not afraid to drop the tempo to give depth to the slightly poppy melody. The backing vocals shine by the end of the track and all together it’s a well built tune, ideally suited to be played loud and live.
‘Kings of Evermore’ is of the same ilk, being a hard rocking sing-a-long, however a reggae influence pops up the guitars adding a different twist. ‘Bones in the Cupboard’ makes the best use of the guitar/fiddle combination in the excellent builds and crunching melodies, and with the intelligent lyrics, creates an epic and immediate feel. ‘Politics and Love, Sex and Understanding’ and ‘Stupid People’ carry on the hard rock, slightly folky theme with the latter really highlighting the slightly sneary, Lydon-like vocal delivery.
Unfortunately its not all good as songs like ‘Bad Choices’, ‘Fear of the Dark’ and ‘Love is Someplace Else’ are not quite of the standard Bleeding Hearts are clearly capable of.
In fact, as a package ‘Politics and Love’ comes across as a two sided beast. As the title suggests we have songs about both but, while the political songs are full of genuine anger, venom and accusation, the ‘love’ tunes are not quite delivered with the same level of emotion.
That said, when a band can turn around and list supports slots with the likes of The Darkness, Fishbone, The Damned, and Shane McGowan, and generate great festival reviews, you know damn well that when these songs hit the stage the crowd is going to be bouncing in the aisles.
Written by Habert on