Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: Propagandhi - Failed States

Failed States
Track listing
01. Note to Self
02. Failed States
03. Devil’s Creek
04. Rattan Cane 
05. Hadron Collision
06. Status Update
07. Cognitive Suicide
08. Things I Like
09. Unscripted Moment
10. Dark Matters
11. Lotus Gait
12. Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)

Let’s start with a brief recounting of my personal history with Propagandhi.  I first heard them on some fat wreck comp and immediately dug their snotty-but-not-stupid brand of skate-punk.  I quickly bought How to Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock.  While I loved all the now-classics on How to Clean... (“Anti-Manifesto”, “Ska Sucks”, etc.) I was drawn to the sharpened wit and introspective nature of Less Talk.  I was so enamoured that I actually played one side of the record every morning before I left for school for an entire year.
After waiting in line for HMV to open so that I could buy Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, I was confused and impressed.  It seemed like this smart-but-silly punk band I loved had suddenly became a dark, driven, political, musical force to be reckoned with.  The riffs were sharper, the lyrics more biting, and the songs more complex.  In short, Propagandhi had grown up.

Ever since that day I patiently wait for new Propagandhi albums.  I obsess over clips and songs that get released (I also apparently write reviews for single songs that they release) and I scour the internet for leaked copies while simultaneously pre-ordering the record as soon as possible.  I don’t only do this because Propagandhi is arguably my favourite band of all time, but because ever since the days of Today’s Empires they have been constantly changing and evolving with each release.  And to be honest, one of the reasons I wait so eagerly is because I’m always waiting to be disappointed.  I figure eventually they will take a left turn off a musical cliff and, as a fan I won’t be willing to follow.

Fortunately, my fears have once again been put to rest.  From the opening notes of “Note to Self” I realize that, while evolved, Failed States is a Propagandhi album in the truest sense of the word.  The riffs are intricate, but catchy, the lyrics are meaningful but broadly political, and the song-writing is complex without being wankerish.  I would also nominate the opening track as the best song on the album, but that is not an easy decision as the album never really relents or weakens in any real way.

While the title track and Devil’s Creek demonstrate why singer/guitarist Chris Hannah is arguably the best songwriter in punk today, “Rattan Cane”, “Hadron Collision”, and “Cognitive Suicide” help hoist Todd the Rodd into the spotlight as an eminent writer/front-man in his own right.  His songs have always been, and continue to be heavier and more metallic, which is the perfect musical juxtaposition to lyrics that are acutely personal and revealing.  That’s right, I used the words “musical juxtaposition”...that’s how you know this is a fancy music review.

Two more tracks that stand out are “Unscripted Moment” and the closer “Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)”.  Both tracks show off the musical complexity that a group like Propagandhi is capable of, with several riffs reminiscent of guitarist David Guillas’ previous project Giant Sons. 

In summation, there is nothing I would change about this album.  It will please any Propagandhi fan without leaving them feeling like this is a rehash of older material.  The band continues to outdo pretty much everyone by evolving into one of the most interesting, intelligent band to ever deliver face-shredding riffs.  If I gave out ratings this album would get 5 masturbating dicks out of 5.  I know that another review on the site listed the Masked Intruders’ record as his ‘Album of the Year’, but I think Propagandhi will likely take that honour for me.

Buy all of the copies you can right here.


  1. I loved your review. That encompassed what this band has done for me as well. 3 years was a long wait but it was so worth it.

  2. Thanks man. I finally got a chance to hear the three bonus tracks that will be included on the deluxe edition and two of them are some of the hardest and fastest Propagandhi songs I've ever heard.

  3. Great review, dude! I'll be reviewing Failed States on my blog (of course, on my native bulgariana language) but I feel the same way about this record. Totally this would be the Album of the year.

  4. Thanks and couldn't agree more! Look forward to reading your review (with the help of Google Translate of course. ahha)