3 Decades & 10 Albums... Does Anti-Flag's New Album 'American Spring' Deliver?
Now into their third decade, Anti Flag are very well established as a band. Ten albums in, it feels like they’ve hit a wall –no bigger or smaller than they were 10 years ago, it’d be easy to lose motivation.
"Fabled World" opens 'American Spring' in a big way, with a soaring melody designed to quickly grab the attention of the listener, a chorus which begs a sing-along, and the first of many Woah-Ohs. The words “these times can leave you torn apart” are an example of Anti Flag’s say-it-how-it-is lyrical style, a trend that isn’t likely to fade anytime soon. "Brandenburg Gate" features many more woah-ohs, but as a track is just lacking – a song with minimal impact on an Anti Flag album just comes across as boring. The track is one of several that sees the band beginning to adopt a poppier brand of punk, which is absolutely fine, but feels like poor timing.
"Sky Is Falling" is one of the most balanced tracks on the album; very catchy music accompanies what is a very serious political narrative about drones. The lyrics to "Walk Away" bring back memories to when Rise Against, another notable veteran of the genre, released I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore last year – the words “there must be more to life than this” muttered by Justin Sane (vocals) is very worrysome, in regards to the band and to the genre as a whole. This isn’t even the only song which sings of ‘giving up’ – "All of the Poison" complains of being unable to escape, where earlier albums would have conveyed a fighting spirit. The rest of the album continues on a negative note, but not in the assuring, eye-opening way we’d hope for.
While the album definitely isn’t terrible, initial thoughts were that the music just doesn’t provide the same oomph to coincide with the powerful, political lyricism, but further listens reveal that even the lyrics themselves are lacking that special something that makes Anti Flag such an overbearing name in the world of punk rock. When lyrics begin having less of an impact than in previous years, and the music still somehow feels weaker than the lyrics, you know it’s a bad sign of a band on their way down. Fortunately, they still have time to turn it around, and let’s hope they do.
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Words by Blaine Marshall