Fans will welcome the first full length release from Bristol’s finest ska’d up anarchist punk export, Spanner, since 2011’s Crisis, but there is plenty here for new comers as well. Into their existing sound they have woven elements of folk, dub, spoken word, French hip hop, and on one track Bad Religion style ‘oozing ahhs’ accompanying a melodic hardcore intro. The musical changes are accompanied with a shake up of vocal duties, with every member of the band and numerous guest vocalists taking a turn on the mic, and joining together for choruses. It all combines to form a sound that feels like it was created as part of a real community, much like the best of Chumbawamba’s records.
certainly a sound that is well earned, as Spanner have always
followed up their words with deeds. Track 10, ‘All Over the Place’,
is all about their experiences throwing themselves into the DIY music
scene, long stretches of touring and a thriving ‘resistance
culture’. You’re also likely to find the band members anywhere
there is a demonstration to be had, solidarity funds to be raised, or
trouble to be caused. It’s this direct involvement that lends
weight to the lyrical content, and allowed them to successfully sue
South Wales police to raise funds for making the album!
‘Property Wrongs’ features perhaps the most instantly infections lyrics, after all who could resist joining in with a shout of ‘SCUM LANDLORDS’? There is certainly a lot of anger at the state of the world throughout many of the tracks, something which any of us paying attention will share. Other targets of the band’s wrath include the alienation of having our social interactions mediated by online companies in the more ‘traditional Spanner’ ska-punk opening track ‘Immobilised’. ‘Always Antifascist’ aims its anger at not just the fascists but the self appointed leaders of the left who would rather we politely protested away from the fash. The spoken word and folk laden ‘Apotheosis’ takes aim at organised religion, and Jeremy Kyle gets his comeuppance in the eclectic ‘The Peoples Trial of Jeremy Kyle’.
Beyond all the insight, and well directed rage is something much rare, and far more important. Optimism. It’s not often any of us can manage to be earnestly positive, instead we use self deprecation, cynicism and sarcasm as the tried and tested coping mechanisms (very British of us!). Loudly exclaiming that we can, and will, win is something we need more of, and is a running theme here, most notable in the energetic harmonies of ‘Impossible’.
We Won’t be Stopped is a great edition to any rebel’s record collection, and I highly recommend banging it on before you head out on your next direct action. Don’t just take my word for it, you can listen to the album in full on Spanner’s bandcamp, and order a copy on Vinyl or CD. Despite their many valid critiques of social media, you can also like them on facebook, and find out when they are coming to a town near you. ■