Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Hope Of The States : The Red The White The Black The Blue
LIke the first 20 minutes of 'Saving Private Ryan', but a record...
a key member with a string-bloated torch anthem (‘A Design For Life’, say) or a sombre but ludicrously-titled ballad (‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’, perhaps), Hope Of The States’ first release since the suicide of guitarist Jimmi Lawrenceis a ragged roar of grief, the sound of the world tearing apart at the seams and spewing forth a universe of demons. Jimmi’s guitar, furious and intangible as thunder, feels simultaneously like the broiling of a tortured soul and the sensation of being trampled underfoot by a passing war.
It is, both musically and emotionally, colossal.
And it’s not about Jimmi at all, obviously. The fella’s right there playing on it. No, ‘The Red The White The Black The Blue’ – directed with searing venom at soldier and non-voter alike – is a neo-political rant against blind nationalism and the subjugation of British will beneath the jackboot of US warmongering (the sleeve is a distortion of the Union Jack, slowly being poisoned by the Stars and Stripes). It practically bleeds images of warfare and destruction, from the "wolves in barbed wire" to the "hijacked train wreck"
to the way the pummelled piano chords seem to drop like buzzbombs onto the Nagasaki chorus, Sam Herlihy croaking "The red, white and the blue/Has always been what’s led you" from the furnace of Ground Zero. All told, it might be a bit of a headfuck for all the pop kids who bought ‘Enemies/Friends’ thinking they were the new Doves.
More a movie-in-waiting than a song (there’s even a crazed Irish jig segment), ‘The Red...’ blasts Hope Of The States out of their Mogwai-with-tunes pigeonhole into a scary/beautiful hellscape of sonic invention all their own. And Jimmi? He’s right here, still raging on.
The film adaptation of R.L. Stine's classic horror novels is shockingly enjoyable
A defiantly bangerless take-me-seriously-as-an-artist album that reveals new charms every time you spin it
The utterly gripping story of how The Boston Globe exposed child abuse within the Catholic church
Hitmaker-for-hire makes a silk purse out of songs rejected by Rihanna, Adele and others