Review: Fighting Fiction/Sweet Empire [7″]

First, an apology. I had planned to finalise this write up before these good people formally launched this vinyl offering of neo-politico punk in early September. But things got delayed. That’s the gonzo world of hobby writing for you. Family; work; then this stuff. Sorry.

And sorry, because this is really rather good. And well deserves the shout. Don’t expect hardcore – it’s melodic-p verging onto almost Billy Bragg territory of yore at turns – but this is still pokey enough fare with soul, brain – and heart.

Fighting Fiction – hailing from that Brighton… not that we should hold that against them… have been doing this for a while now. Album under their belt and a decent following driven by a touring ethic. I’ve written elsewhere that the predictions in some quarters of a upwelling of intelligent political music – of a hue unseen since the 80s – as a reaction to the current administration have proven distinctly hollow. Is the best we can do the King Blues..? Jesus… Nonetheless, some acts come up near the plate, Enter Shikari (maybe) – and these chaps. And that’s about it, unfortunately.

This split seven incher with the Netherlands’ Sweet Empire features four tracks that don’t hang around. You get a minimalist take on mass acceptance of exploitation (‘The Long and Short of It’) and a harder-egded vitriolic gobbet ripping brightly into the artistic and spiritual desolation of the talent show culture (‘Tonight Matthew..’) on the Fighting Fiction side – and classic-sounding melodic garage punk railing against Business Bastards on the Sweet Empire side. Sweet Empire’s contribution has a freshness and vigour to it that is infectious – no song longer than 2 mins 15 secs – and that is medically impossible to dislike. Blink and you miss it.

Do the kids even care about anything other than social media and getting the right quiff to go with their deck shoes these days? Does anyone care? Don’t know. But if you like your punk with a bit of a conscience and substance – alongside the same basic formula of hooks and riffs that have been going around for nearly thirty years now – then these bright, handsome young things are for you. Keep it up, gents. Do us proud.

4 out of 5 high fives!

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