Songs From Planet Earth Album Review ☆☆☆☆
These ten songs provide a chastening scrapbook of images of a broken land, but Songs From Planet Earth is also an album of sublime musical beauty and restrained furious energy.
As we emerge, blinking, into the post-lockdown world, some things have changed, some things have not. For musicians, and artists generally, it has been a frustrating and particularly challenging period. Touring opportunities were cut away and any scheduled recording that involved groups of people, or commercial studios, were hobbled by restriction. For some, this meant that projects prepared pre-pandemic were simply deferred and the whole create>promote>gig chain was postponed. For some, however, it was a time for reflection and observation, and for actually chronicling the extraordinary events of the time.
Deux Furieuses (vocalist and guitarist Ros Cairney and drummer Vas Antoniadou) did not defer. They were in those endless moments, capturing the Zeitgeist. The new album Songs From Planet Earth is a work very tightly rooted in the pandemic and its wider socio-political aspects and shot through with bitter observations of the unfolding shitshow. Album opener Isolation Days is an introspective, coiling diary entry of life in the COVID glass bubble. It’s a track full of melancholy and menace with an eerie apocalyptic feel that perfectly captures that Walking Dead vibe of the early lockdown. All We Need Is Sanctuary continues this theme, equating city life with pestilence and the open spaces of the countryside with health and freedom.
Bring Down The Government is a grungy, sleazy rallying cry for the disenfranchised and the disaffected, holding the Johnson administration to account for their fiddling while Rome burned. Fool All The People takes Abraham Lincoln‘s famous adage and fires it as a warning shot across the bows of a government, asking, “Is it a sin to drink wine at the body count?” while lamenting the loss of freedom to protest or express an opposing viewpoint. It is the anti-violence against women anthem Know The Score that finds the duo at their hardest, tackling what the band call a ‘shadow pandemic of violence against women’. It’s uncomfortable and harrowing listening, wrapped up in a tough and affirmative riot of stomping drums and cutting guitars.
Songs From Planet Earth was recorded in October 2021 over two weeks at Grange Farm Studio and was self-produced by the band for the first time. Assistant production was added by Isi Clarke who also recorded the album with mix/post production by Mark Freegard (The Breeders). My Bloody Valentine‘s Deb Googe plays bass on Bring Down The Government, a single whose release immediately precipitated the immediate resignation of Boris Johnson. Probably.
These ten songs provide a chastening scrapbook of images of a broken land, but Songs From Planet Earth is also an album of sublime musical beauty and restrained furious energy. Heavy themes are lightly touched. The guitars and drums meld into a perfect space in which to express strong ideas. And while those ideas can be bold and strident, this album never feels like it’s ever doing anything but coaxing you along the correct road. Never preaching or hectoring, this is protest music in its most sublime expression, drawing on the deeply personal. But the personal is political, never more so than this. Anger is an energy.