War Stripes give us the fearless political punk we need
War Stripes new EP, Always Unafraid, did it. These four blokes from Manchester, did what I want punk bands to do to me. They filled me with rage and reminded me how god-damn good it feels. They let me know that, in fact, I was right. Things are fucked up.
The moment I first heard the filthy, mangled guitar tone that introduces the EP’s opener, Gas Prices, I wanted to get off my chair and throw it through my window. That was until they reminded me how much heating is, and while economics is often spoken about in abstractions, War Stripes bring it back to reality. The opening lines, ‘bills are going up, but wages going down, they’re treat us like bugs, they’re taking us for clowns’, remind us that our rage shouldn’t be directed at a window, but at those in power. It’s so bloody refreshing to hear lyrics like this. No metaphor, no trying to appeal to a wide audience, just calling it as it is.
This style of snarl continues on Spitting Teeth, where the EP’s title finds its home as the chorus line. This is my favourite track out of the four. It elicits that that feeling I mentioned earlier as well as any punk song you’ll hear. The gang vocals in the chorus make me feel a part of something bigger, that together we don’t have to be afraid, in the same way that Black Flag made us feel we could “rise above”. It’s not even really that important to know what the danger is, just that together we can handle it.
Luckily for us listeners though, the last track on the EP points us in a not so subtle direction. Boris’ House Party, while topical, shows us that War Stripes a band of their word. They aren’t afraid to be very specific in their grievances and the line, ‘let’s get down to Downing Street’, makes me think they would get a pizza out of the oven with their bare hands.
Listening to Always Unafraid, I couldn’t help but think that the problems the UK is facing right now, namely the cost of living crisis and an out of touch, dysfunctional government, are creating the perfect storm for a fresh wave of political punk bands to rise to popularity. I certainly hope so. Punk’s proven record of empowering the disempowered would certainly be welcome, and it may just prove vital moving forward. It’s good to know there are bands like War Stripes, fearless in the face of injustice, here to lead the charge.
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