Anti-Flag, The General Strike

Andrew Mueller

By Andrew Mueller

on 03.19.12 in Reviews

Anti-Flag are nothing if not consistent. The Pittsburghagit-rockers have now maintained, over nine albums, an unswerving fealty to a ruggedly fundamentalist interpretation of both punk rock and leftish political sentiment. They are not long on subtlety, exploration or exposition. The 12 tracks on The General Strike barrel by in less than 28 minutes. The sentiments contained therein may be summarized as: capitalism and war, bad; socialism and peace, good.

Nothing if not consistent

Though defiantly simplistic in both style and content, The General Strike is not without invigorating appeal. Anti-Flag have honed a knack for daftly irresistible shout-along choruses, and the likes of “Neoliberal Anthem” and “The Ranks of the Masses” — the titles, like the lyrics, are composed in some realm beyond satire — are at least bracing the first time, suggesting an incongruously radicalised Ramones, or a more earnest Green Day.

Unfortunately, too much of the rest of The General Strike regresses into a mixture of the sanctimonious hectoring once performed by Jello Biafra in front of The Dead Kennedys, and the clodhopping, sweaty bellowing of Sham 69. Anti-Flag do, however, save the best for last. “1915,” an exuberantly riffed tribute to Joe Hill, quotes adroitly from the controversially executed labor leader’s will, and sounds more than anything else here like the one thing Anti-Flag want to write most: a Clash song.