Bigger Cages, Longer Chains (Epitaph)
by Ewan Wadharmi
As one of the few buzz bands to come along with any substance to justify the hype, The (International) Noise Conspiracy leads the Scandal-navian invasion with their stylized mod garage punk. In Bigger Cages… the Swedes have reduced their MC5 political shock to a syllabus in the liner notes, footnoting each song with an appropriate publication to research on your own. The songs themselves avoid blatant propaganda by demonstrating any belief structures in subtler terms within the story. This kinder, gentler technique carries the message well, but suffers initially in the sonics. I want to be beaten over the moptop with a wall of fuzz, dammit! The R&B groove sinks in like Funhouse-era Stooges after a very short pouting spell and all is forgiven. Like The BellRays to a lesser extent, once overcome by the Detroit fever, you’re susceptible to their more soulful approach. Sax, gas-can percussion, and warm, retro organ go into complex arrangements where the compartmentalized parts overlap. Super showman Dennis Lyxzen’s venom-soaked vocals are capable of inciting a working-class riot. The smart bass work by Inge Johansson provides solid support, especially on “A Textbook Example.” The urgency is deliberate and highly effective, although “Beautiful So Alone” feels misplaced and misdirected like ’60s French cinema. Vespa guys with Banacek hair and mock turtlenecks wooing hip glider pilot chicks in powder blue. Only this track features dub rhythms and a slight Jesus & Mary Chain vibe.
The real gem is the inclusion of videos from previous releases which showcase their more raw energy. Also, a short preview of an appearance by former G7 label-mate Noam Chomsky, who addresses the events of September 11 and the hypocrisy of America’s war on terrorism. The question to the listener is whether the socialist message makes a difference in a package so reliant on pop culture style and imagery. In this environment, the stance seems a tongue-in-cheek affectation, and isn’t that how McLaren killed the New York Dolls? For indoctainment value, Bigger Cages, Longer Chains succeeds in making you dance off your aggression. And that really impresses the hot, left-wing WTO protest broads.
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