Gang Of Four – Return The Gift (CD)

I was excited as hell when I learned that Gang Of Four were coming out with a new album; “To Hell With Poverty” starts off the disc and seems to have a lot to do with the angular dance-punk of bands like Franz Ferdinand and Electric Six than anything else. Hell, there are even hints of both early U2 tand the Sisters of Mercy during this track’s runtime, so chances are if anyone likes a track with a killer dance-beat that actually has some meat on its bones that this will provide them with an perfect entrance to this disc. There is definitely a dated (but not in a negative way) feel to “Return The Gift”, especially during tracks like “Not Great Men” where Gang Of Four takes more than a few notes from The Psychedelic Furs and the ersatz sounds of bands like the B-52s and Deee-lite for the hooks present.

Perhaps the most interesting track in the earlier section of the disc has to be “Anthrax”, a track in which a dual-part harmony vacillates between harmony and dissonance. This provides listeners with a continually-changing focus, while the drums truly are the only thing that provides any solid tether throughout the track. The guitar work that is present on “Paralysed” is modified to the point that each riff sounds as if it was cribbed off a fourth or fifth generation tape, while the low end is so low that it is almost ominous. The chiaroscuro thus present on this track is enough to make individuals shiver with delight, as Gang of Four create a track that is not constrained by any specific date. There is even a minor amount of industrial to be found during the run of “Return The Gift”; the sequenced beats of “He’d Send The Army” look to “Downward Spiral” as much as they do to the seventies funk movement.

The chaos that finds its way into the lead position towards the end of “He’d Send The Army” really makes sense with the track as narrative; where the first movement is orderly (much like a martial plan) there is a definite breakdown of this order as the troops are sent headlong into war. Everything is eminently radio-friendly, but comes through with such a fury that even the most critical ear will be delighted. Gang of Four is back, and the resulting shake-up in the music world will be interesting to hear.

Top Tracks: At Home He’s A Tourist, Anthrax

Rating: 7.0/10

Gang Of Four – Return The Gift / 2005 V2 / 14 Tracks / http://www.gangoffour.us / http://www.v2records.com / Reviewed 02 September 2005

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