The new album by the politically motivated Calling All Astronauts is finally here. After close to twenty months in their own purpose-built studio, their second album Anti-Social Network has been released.
This album has been eagerly anticipated after the band’s explosion onto the scene via their live performances, which have only added to the growing fan base.
For a fairly new band to have such a long production opportunity is rare. Unfortunately we believe it has worked against them. It is clear that the band have attempted to include all of their musical and political influences. Always an alternative rock act at heart, there are clearly a host of other musical genres that they have tried to incorporate.
As well as engineering and producing this album they mash together rock, electro, goth, drum and bass, and punk.
This idea unfortunately largely fails to deliver for the band, however the album starts off well. The opening track ‘Living the Dream’ is naïve in its lyrical construction with frontman David B imploring us with his growling vocals to get ourselves out of this small town. This is complimented with industrial guitars that meets swirling electronica.
The lead single from the album is without doubt the best track on the album. ‘Empire’ forges the band’s clear love of alternative rock, and attempts to give it a fresh modern makeover. In parts it works with influences such as The Sisters of Mercy clearly audible.
From there the album descends into a hodge-podge of styles and genres. ‘Time to Fight Back’ is a storming The Prodigy styled assault screaming at us to take action regarding social injustices. However, this again comes across as naïve, and at times simplistic. ‘Hands Up Who Wants To Die?’ is another case in point. The track contains a hard hitting subject regarding teenage knife crime. This again is to be applauded as the band are clearly a passionate bunch who are trying to use their music and influences to highlight a serious issue. Yet, as a piece of music it’s again simplistic in its delivery.
This theme is continued with a variety of different styles such as the funky 1980s ‘Life As We Know It’ which attempts to at least lift the album out of its seriousness. However the political themes soon return with ‘The American Dream’, which is a straight up hard rock number about our gun toting cousins across The Pond. Followed by ‘God Is Dead’, a pop at our obsessive consumerism. The album finishes with a dub step based track in ‘Divisive’ with the band turning their attention to the destruction of our planet. Powerful vocals blast out the simple message:
“Greed equals power equals war equals death.”
The band have a clear political conscience and the whole album is motivated by the unjust causes that we all experience. This is something that should certainly be applauded. However for us this a naïve attempt to forge political understanding. The vocals are obvious and simplistic, and the band have so many styles and influences that they clearly decided to include all of them. This makes the album disjointed and lacking structure or direction. They may well be better placed on constructing a sound that is theirs and continuing along the same politically motivated themes that clearly drove this album.