Review Summary: Brexit-Core Anti-Classic
What is it that makes a listener go beyond the level of just passively dismissing a piece of music to the point of actively despising it" There will be those out there that declare music will never engage their wretch reflex, that life's too short to worry about what you do not enjoy, but I can not help but feel these individuals just have not stumbled upon 'the one' yet Somewhere out there is the perfectly awful yang to their favorite album yin just waiting to ambush them like an E. coli infested poop smeared sandwich. I've seen many contenders for the title over the years from the doggedly persistent inane melodies of Abba to the tedious dad rock of the latter day Stereophonics but against all odds one album still managed to wriggle itself free of the competition and King of the junkyard.
A common misconception is that a listener's least favorite album will emerge from a genre they inherently dislike but I doubt that this transpires too often. 'Genre rating' a style of music you do not care for will, by definition, usually spread the hate across multiple releases; if you loathe a style of music are you going to search enough within it to uncover 'the one'" Probably not the answer. The second misconception is sometimes linked to the first and asserts that least favorite album will be in some way 'musically incompetent'. Again, unless someone is actively trawling unsigned releases on Bandcamp specifically looking for this type of thing, then you will not get as rich a hunting ground as you would perhaps expect. Incompetent music often tips the balance in the realms of the unintentionally humorous, the openly ridiculous or just your plain old garden variety of harmless. No, for a terrible album to really make that lasting bond with a listener it will most likely be drawn from a genre you listen to for pleasure and will, by most measures, be regarded as 'competent music'. This is certainly the case with the album that flicked my testicles all those years ago; If you are unacquainted let me introduce you to 'Generation Silenced' by Missing Andy.
My introduction to the album was stumbling across the video to 'The Way We're Made' while skipping channels and I was transfixed; it consisted of footage of some gurning wannabe Mike Skinner, bedecked in regulation white polo shirt and flat cap, laying the mockney on thick while wandering down his local High Street to pick up a copy of (The wait for it ...) The Sun. In addition some lines of lyrics are mimed by an identically attired actor playing his 'child self', a dramatic device that only succeeds in leading the viewer to question whether our hero plopped out of the womb ready dressed in this clobber. After the initial shock wore off sufficiently I started concentrating on the words this cartoon character was actually singing; glib, jingoistic, mind numbingly bland ... national pride has never been sold in such an unattractive wrapper. The video plays to stereotypes to such a degree it can not help but flick that switch and set off the 'cynically targeted marketing' alarm; whether the band themselves are disingenuous or merely misguided is hard to establish.
Curiosity got the better of me and I found myself drawn into listening to 'Generation Silenced' in full. At this point I'd already listened to Jamie T's debut along with the back catalogs of Arctic Monkeys and The Streets so the broad strokes of this album's musical approach were familiar; this was not a case of genre mismatch. No, this was an album that could have appealed to a few admittedly major tweaks. Indeed the opening 'Alive' is passable in it's Jam / Specials worship, it's certainly nothing you've heard before but it remains inoffensive sprightly Mod-ish punk tune. Sadly this is the high-water mark of this release and the remainder of the album plummets headlong from one ill-advised experiment into another. The lame 'Only Fools and Horses' attempted comedy mockney knees up of 'Dave' is unbearably cheesy, coming across as a witless retread of Jamie T's infinitely superior 'Sheila', while the faux swing wimp-pop of 'Money' is worse still , the sort of fluffy confection Olly Murs would have rejected for lacking bite.
The genre-dabbling continues with the vocal talents of Alex Greaves pushed beyond their limit on the attempted big ballad 'In A State' and the 'Parklife' aping 'Indie Kid' (gah). The latter in particular is worthy of mention, the band having identified somewhat of an open goal for their satire in the shape of indie music snobs; it would have been harder to miss this target than score but sure enough Missing Andy evoke the spirit of Diana Ross in '94 and screw their effort wider than you thought humanly possible. The lyrics reach their inevitable nadir on the ultimate greasy chip on shoulder empowerment anthem 'Scum' with Greaves demanding 'how about taking a look at yourself, wake up and smell the coffee you bunch of ignorant mugs, cause and affect, you messed up and we're living it, cheers'; yes you heard that right, it's all the previous generation's fault that people now look down on lads wandering the streets during the day burping up beer with an angry stare plastered on their chops. 'Generation Silenced' or 'Generation Self-entitlement'" You decide.
Perhaps as penultimate track 'A Call to Arms' suggests Missing Andy really sees themselves as revolutionaries standing up for a forgotten generation of marginalized working class, and maybe these intentions are pure enough, but a note of caution should always be sounded when complex political issues get boiled down into jingoistic tub-thumping soundbites that can easily be adopted by the intolerant. While the message behind the music is certainly worrying it's the ham-fisted delivery that surely applies to the noxious coating, one that transforms the selection of otherwise uninspired songs into a truly abysmal, borderline offensive album. 'Generation Silenced' ticks every single 'wrong' box available and you know what, there's something life-affirming in that. Know your enemy.