Propagandhi
Failed States


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
September 6th, 2012 | 140 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Go ahead and sing you guys! Sing you guys!

In 2009's Supporting Caste, Propagandhi more or less perfected the increasingly frantic sound they had been developing for the better part of a decade. The album was not only a fusion of the melodic punk rock sound Propagandhi had built their early career on and their thrashier influences, but also saw songwriters Chris Hannah and Todd Kowalski at their most focused and meticulous. "Dear Coach's Corner" perhaps best exemplifies this improvement; Propagandhi opens with some of the most explosive guitar work they've put to record, but quickly transition into a more sombre atmosphere befitting of Hannah's poignant diatribe against militarism and nationalism in Canadian cultural institutions. It's a more subdued track than much of the album, which revels in the sort of breakneck riffing that Today’s Empires, Tomorrows Ashesand Potemkin City Limitsonly hinted at, but it's a good example of how far Hannah and Kowalski have come as songwriters.

In some respect, Failed States operates in similar vein. Towards the end of "Note to Self", Hannah prescribes the solution to the bitter social criticisms they've spent their careers railing against ("rise"), and kicks off a string of furious, energetic offerings. The most instantly enjoyable songs here, such as "Ratten Cane" and "Status Update", again push Propagandhi's aggressive tendencies to the limit. In particular, the sludgy hardcore in "Ratten Cane" is among the riffiest romps Failed States has to offer and fits the brutal ideological hazing detailed in the lyrics perfectly. Likewise, the blistering shred guitar in "Hadron Collision" and "Status Update" highlights the sort of technicality that has become a staple in Propagandhi's sound.

But behind the all the guitar wizardry, Failed States returns to and expands on the sober themes explored in "Dear Coach's Corner", and it's this approach that is most attention-grabbing. "Note to Self" opens with gloomy guitars set to lyrics disparaging the traumas of austerity for working people and dishonest governing parties (which may as well refer to the Harper regime of the band's native Canada, although the song is vague enough to apply to past and present ruling parties of pretty much anywhere), and while it takes on a mid-paced, metallic sheen, it never loses the urgency it establishes early on. "Unscripted Moment" temporarily steps away from the social criticism to reflect on the more positive aspects of life (perhaps in spite of everything the band rails against), injecting some perspective into the record, while "Lotus Gait" laments the apathy and thoughtlessness that in part prevents real change. Even the relatively light-hearted "Things I Like" takes a darker turn towards the end; support for underrated Rush records and "inconsistent, fragile, internationally reviled" hockey franchises quickly turns back to a grim appraisal of the modern society.

In this way, Failed States is very much a reflection of its time. Between continuing economic struggles, ***faced politicians, growing class divisions, financial corruption, etc, the band has no shortage of targets to aim its ire at. As with previous albums, much of Failed States tackles these issues in the bitter, provocative way befitting of their love of thrashy punk rock, but it's backed up by an increasingly tragic flare that compliments the record's heavier moments exceedingly well. It helps that Propagandhi consistently reinvent themselves with each album, subtly or not, ensuring that there's always something interesting to come back to. Fans will debate whether Failed States tops previous records, but certainly meets the standards the band has set for themselves. With a discography as constantly excellent as Propagandhi's, that's no small feat, and once again confirms their status as one of Canada's most accomplished punk acts.



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user ratings (327)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Mark Campbell (4.5)
Propagandhi’s most vicious offering yet and an easy contender for album of the year....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
September 6th 2012


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

guys i did something

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 6th 2012


10594 Comments


Why the hell haven't I listened to this yet??

Digging: Grouper - Ruins

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2012


50415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I found a dl link and I started dl'ing it but I forgot about it and closed my computer and now the link died damn

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 6th 2012


10594 Comments


SAME HERE.



That actually happens a lot tbh

bloc
September 6th 2012


34854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Didn't think this was that great

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Raz0rGrind23
September 7th 2012


423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shit I didn't know this was coming out! Must have!!!

Shogun
September 7th 2012


416 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules but its nowhere near topping Empires or Supporting Caste.

Spec
September 7th 2012


27173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really.

ViralOblivion
September 7th 2012


7679 Comments


I listened to half the new album nothing caught my attention

someguest
September 7th 2012


20600 Comments


dumbass

someguest
September 7th 2012


20600 Comments


fucking republicans in here

johnnyblaze
September 7th 2012


2606 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed with your blurb on Rattan Cane - great song.

I love how they reserve their more brutal moments on this for when they're most appropriate and then deliver them so fucking well it feels like the Earth is gonna start shaking under your feet. Great songwriting.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 7th 2012


15737 Comments


MIKESN

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

TheSpirit
September 7th 2012


17860 Comments


Never listened to this band before, is this a good place to start for someone who digs heavier music?

Digging: Wreodan Heahl - Laecig

someguest
September 7th 2012


20600 Comments


This is a fine place to start, but you'll probably like Supporting Caste more.

TheSpirit
September 7th 2012


17860 Comments


Why do you say that?

someguest
September 7th 2012


20600 Comments


The lyrics have more punch to them and there are standout tracks. This is more of a whole piece listen.

Mikesn
Emeritus
September 7th 2012


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The lyrics have more punch to them and there are standout tracks. This is more of a whole piece listen.

Sounds about right, but this is as good a place to start as any

didn't even realize you were still around mike
sort of

StrizzMatik
September 8th 2012


3191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fine review sir

Digging: Finch (US) - Back to Oblivion

Apollo
September 8th 2012


10307 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listening to this band for the first time ever

I like the music itself...the vocals are taking some getting used to but they aren't bad



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