Gang of Four – Complicit (EP Review)

One of the pioneers of English Post Punk, Gang of Four returns again with a new gift in tow, albeit only an EP. But then, this is just a taster of something greater that is definitely coming next this summer.

Formed in 1977, in Leeds, England, Gang of Four has eight studio albums under its name, from 1979’s Entertainment! to 2015’s What Happens Next. The music of the band is best characterized by the sharp angularity of the guitars, funky basslines, groovy drumbeats, and often politically oriented lyrics – best represented by their classic singles such as “Damaged Goods,” “At Home He’s a Tourist,” “I Love a Man in a Uniform,” and “Anthrax.” The forthcoming four-track EP, titled Complicit, retains this distinct musical trademark.

Slated for release on Friday, April 13, 2018, it opens with the Dance Rock stomper “Lucky,” whose serrated guitar lines and bouncy bass-and-drum rhythm showcase Gang of Four’s propensity to combine angularity and danceability, resulting in a perfect yet paradoxical mix of Post Punk’s anti-Pop stance and Pop’s catchiness. This is followed by the Industrial/Dub-flavored jab of “Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have),” which finds Gang of Four in its most direct, anti-establishment sentiment yet. (Yes, that’s the American presidential daughter Ivanka Trump whom the song is pertaining to.) Then there is the undulating, experimental, Trip-Hop/Rock combo of “I’m a Liar” – another poke on today’s era of fake news and self-aggrandizement.

Finally, Gang of Four – currently comprised by founding member Andy Gill (guitar, vocals) and new members Thomas McNeice (bass), John “Gaoler” Sterry (lead vocals), and Tobias Humble (drums) – wrapped up their latest effort with a Dub-heavy remix of the first track, courtesy of 10 o’clock Chemical, conjuring images of dizzying flicker of discotheque lights and sweaty bodies of both old-school Post-Punk Rockers and millennial club-trippy hipsters, exchanging with each other benevolent glances and nods of approval.

Complicit is certainly a sonic picture of a gracefully progressing Gang of Four, vibing off youthful vitality and at the same time exuding nostalgic energy – in touch with the sound of the current times and yet still rooted in their glorious past. CrypticRock gives Complicit 4 out of 5 stars.

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