The Invisible Empire
A little out of our usual coverage here given that Beatnik are over the hills in Corona (rather than Corona Del Mar, say), but given the continuing Occupy protests — accompanied with various articles and comments about 'where is the music or anthem of the movement?,' as if it specifically required one — there's something timely about something arriving in our inbox with a bold “Socialism Saves Lives” logo on the insert and song titles like “Apathy is a Weapon.” Still, we gotta remind the band, IE isn't OC (and vice versa).
That noted, the music itself: Public Enemy it isn't, but it's not Rage Against the Machine either (or to be a little more fair, all the dull as ditchwater politicized bands in both their wakes that roar a lot but sound pretty boring in their earnestness). When the title track starts off the album with a murky strum and singalong that sounds more like something from New Zealand's home-taping scene of the 1980s than anything else, I admit my ears prick up a bit. Even if it's circumstantial rather than intentional, it lends an air of gentle interest that carries throughout the album's short length.
Still, lyrically we're generally in more well-meaning than memorably apt territory, thus a typical line from “Madison, WI,” referencing the protests in that city at the start of this year: “They don't give a damn about you/They don't give a damn about me/Money is the only thing they see.” Throw in things like the accent on “The Hypocrite Dance” (presumably Argentinian given the description of Mark Sanford's adulterous travails) and there's something Fugs-like about this in intent if not full execution. Beatnik aren't the Fugs, though, but credit for trying.