I should perhaps start off by stating that I’m young and stupid. Mick Jones, not so young, and I can’t say with certainty as to how intelligent he is, but I can say this: he’s an original “punk” who has made it into the harsh, cold post-post-post-postmodern hyperglobal world. It seems, to put it more simply, these and other loiterers of the late-’70s hard-on of agitprop and buzz saw power chords are now entering the shameful era of becoming “classic” “rockers.” What’s a midlife punk to do, other than what he’s always been good at?
Before it seems that I’m going into a maddening rant about how old people suck and that Jones should have just gone into the sunset like any sensible San Diego spazz hardcore band, I just want to say that these songs aren’t that bad or pathetic, dated however they may sound. Jones and Tony James have the power pop structure down pat, thought they don’t inspire the same sense of generational relevance that the likes of The Clash surely did, they still have that ability to rope in social observation with sweet but immediate melodies. The most aggressive tracks hardly go exceed mid-tempo, though some (“The News,” “The Whole Truth” and “What the Fuck” [written as “What the F**k”]) have the advantage of stripped down chords that hammer as opposed to slash. Others come off more sweetly, almost in the vein of The Beatles, chiefly “Tell It Like It Is” and “War on Culture.”
Such twilight tunes are fitting and not trying to sound too “angry young men”-like. And yet there’s something offensive about this album that I’ll never let them off for. Take the design for instance. Honestly, was your budget that miniscule that you couldn’t have used some tasteful, serious fonts and maybe a little less like a high school demo disc? Furthermore, putting pictures of your band on the cover of the fucking thing does not work unless, and this has taken me a long time to accept, you’re Jack and Meg White. In addition to that, they also had the strange idea of printing no more than the choruses of the song lyrics in the insert. This to me makes no sense and is a complete waste of space and paper. Such crimes cannot go unpunished. One cannot simply publish excerpts when anthems such as these must be read in full in order to get the appropriate scope from the listener. But what do I know? I’m just a dick with standards.
Other than that, this is a bit of a nice romp with some thoughtfulness to it and a decent sense of arrangement and precision. In the end, these troopers are spending their later years as any sane creative person would. However, it has not inspired me to plan my old age to be anything other than selling orthotics, drinking hobo whiskey, staring chillingly at the local children and staring rascally at their mothers regardless of the size of their asses.