Bob Vylan’s 2020 ‘We Live Here’ was an intense, furious record that spoke candidly about systemic racism and its everyday impact. Finding a balance between punk and grime, the London-based duo created a tightly wound record that never considered holding anything back. Before its release, the duo were told it was “too extreme” but it spoke to that moment in time perfectly, offering both rage and understanding to all who could relate.
New album ‘Bob Vylan Presents: The Price Of Life’ sees the band do it again. A concept record about wealth-based inequality, it tackles class, race, and fast food with fiery purpose. On vegan punk anthem ‘Health Is Wealth’, they argue that looking after your mental and physical health is an act of revolution, while the snarling post-punk stomp of ‘Pretty Songs’ continues the message that “Black lives have always mattered; you just weren’t told so on TV”. Elsewhere scuzzy rock rager ‘GDP’ speaks to the everyday realities of living through an economic crisis. If you wanted escapism, this isn’t the record for you.
‘The Price Of Life’ also sees the band playing with nu-metal, Britpop and dance alongside their earlier influences, meaning the record feels more playful and confident than its predecessor. Everything is bigger this time around.
The brooding, electro thrash of ‘Bait The Bear’ is a swaggering clap-back at all the hate Bob Vylan have faced for getting political, before they double down (“Wage war against the state / It’s a fascist regime”) while the rave-ready ‘Take That’ is a deliberately antagonistic anthem designed to make the “gammons feel sick now”.
There are no answers on ‘The Price Of Life’, just a passionate call for change and a desire to break the long-standing cycle of abuse. Yes, sometimes the references are a little dated (Churchill, Thatcher and Elvis all get a kicking) and the band aren’t exactly subtle – but they never claimed to be, either.
Elsewhere ‘Big Man’ and ‘Wicked And Bad’ might sound like your typical abrasive punk tracks on the surface, but underneath they tell true, vulnerable stories of trauma, survival and life or death decisions that people face everyday. The acoustic guitar-led ‘He Sold Guns’ takes it one step further, with the band taking influence from Pixies, Jamie T and The Verve to create something dangerously close to a ballad.
In every way, ‘Bob Vylan Presents: The Price Of Life’ is a far more eclectic record than anything the duo have released before. Their alt-rock tracks about inequality will speak to a wider audience but the band never soften their edges or pull their punches in a bid for accessibility. At times, it is extreme – just like the world we’re living in right now.
Release date: April 22
Record label: GHOST THEATRE