Review Summary: Let it burn.
Anti-Flag have a very limited range of subject matter for their songs. Their entire career can be summarized with two words: America sucks. And it's true. Since day one, Anti-Flag have been whining about "*** America" and "*** the man". However, it made sense 12 years ago. The band members were all in their twenties back then, of course they were going to be whiny and conceited. Lead singer Justin Sane is now 35, and is still making the same angry anti-American tunes he was making back in 1996.
Anti-Flag also claim that they are against capitalism, a main part of good old America’s success, but the hypocrisy in that statement is so blatant that it's actually affecting the quality of their work. Since signing with the big-name (and no doubt capitalist) record label RCA, their music has become more poppier than their first few albums. Compare the very good (though still poppy) For Blood and Empire
to Underground Network
. There's a noticeable difference, but both albums were still great.
Although For Blood and Empire
showed a poppier side of Anti-Flag, it was still good, with songs like "The Press Corpse" and "1 Trillion Dollar$", The Bright Lights of America
shows the worst part of Anti-Flag's pop sound. The album drags on for 52 minutes, and none of that is well spent. Justin Sane also attempts to recruit a new generation of anti-Americans by letting innocent little children sing in “The Ink and the Quill”. Making repetitive political songs isn’t enough for him, as he attempts to brainwash our youth into following his political stance.
Songs like “Vices”, “No Warning”, and “The Modern Rome Burning” are incredibly repetitive, and offer nothing new to the table. Every single thing that Sane rants about in this 52-minute ***fest has already been discussed in previous albums. To make things worse, the lyrics are completely terrible. “We all have our vices, we all have our flaws / we all have our anger, we all have our love” is one of the most cheesy, inane lyrics I have ever heard from a “punk” band.
Anti-Flag’s main problem is that The Bright Lights of America
has the same lyrical content and subject matter as their previous five albums. Aside from a new (crappier) sound, Anti-Flag have not changed since their release of Die for the Government
in 1996. Sane still hates everything about Amerika, and the topic has been so overused he sounds Pat Thetic on this album. The quicker he becomes a Canadian, the better.
As Sane cries in “No Warning”, “This is the same sad and boring melancholy story”. And it’s true. Anti-Flag are desperately trying to sound current while completely leaving out the punk elements that made them a good band in the first place. The band has their vices and flaws, and until they get their act together, the next ten years of their career will be nothing but the same anti-American albums over and over and over again.