Levellers, Static On The Airwaves

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 06.25.12 in Reviews
Infectious Celtic-tinged rock ‘n’ roll

The Levellers have always been a vastly polarizing musical proposition and Static on the Airwaves, the 11th studio album of their 22-year career, is not about to rectify that situation. For every devotee who adores the Brighton band’s potent trademark mix of fervent fiddle-driven folk-punk and radical social dialectics, there is a detractor who regards them as a tiresomely self-righteous musical anachronism. Both camps will gather plenty of fuel for their arguments from this outing, where the band once again marry utopian left-wing/libertarian politics to some of the most infectious Celtic-tinged rock ‘n’ roll this side of the early Waterboys. Levellers lyrics sheets can read like a tick sheet of contemporary social issues: “Truth Is” condemns the current Europe-wide mood of economic austerity, “Our Forgotten Towns” descries globalization and the tyranny of market forces, “The Recruiting Sergeant” reworks a traditional folk anthem to bemoan continued Western military involvement in Afghanistan. Thankfully, singer Mark Chadwick is just as dextrous tackling affairs of the heart as those of the State — “Alone In This Darkness” is a gorgeously spectral lovelorn lament — and musically the Levellers’ idiosyncratic brand of firebrand gypsy-punk remains as irresistible as it is spirited. Overall, the ayes have it.