One of my favorite “supergroups.” The only confirmed member of this band is Geoff Rickly, frontman for Thursday. Other rumored members include Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw/Head Automatica vocalist), Lukas Previn (Thursday/Acid Tiger), Ben Koller (Converge drummer), and various members of a number of other bands including The Number Twelve Looks Like You And Pianos Become the Teeth.
United Nations, the self-titled debut (and possibly only) full length, is a fast and violent experimental punk album. At 11 tracks, it runs just 25 minutes, with 5 minutes spent on the last song alone.
Lyrics, as you might expect based on the band’s name, are politically charged and pissed off. Here’s a snippet from “Resolution 9”:
Camera One, we’re live.
Let’s state the mission
(It’s no surprise):
The leaders say,
“Desperate measures call for desperate times.”
Plug it in: the war machine.
Fall in line with the opposition.
We control the candidates.
But the content of the lyrics also question the media industry (“Filmed In Front of a Live Studio Audience”) consumption, and the state of the punk scene. In “The Shape of Punk That Never Came,” Rickly writes:
Dennis, are you listening?
Is there something that I’m missing?
Where is the passion? Was it just fashion?
The “Dennis” referenced is Dennis Lyxzén, vocalist for the incomparable and legendary Refused and The (International) Noise Conspiracy. After The Shape of Punk to Come was released, Refused went embarked on a US tour and subsequently broke up the night of their last show.
From there, Refused’s legacy is unmistakable. TSOPTC is easily the most important punk album of the last 20 years, and probably of our generation. They did a reunion tour last year, and I got to see them in Atlanta. It was everything that I had imagined and more, and the lasting influence that listeners hear from that album resonates throughout the entire genre and its subgenres like a spiderweb crack.
United Nations is a direct product of The Shape of Punk to Come. Geoff Rickly has every reason to be upset on “The Shape of Punk That Never Came,” because the genre literally fell apart for a few years almost immediately following Refused’s release. For me, it wasn’t until Converge released Jane Doe that the pieces were put back together.
Either way, United Nations is a triumph championing punk music’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (or whatever you think the ultimate Beatles record is).
Speaking of The Beatles, I present to you and posted without comment, the original UN cover:
And for what it’s worth, closing track “Say Goodbye To General Figment of The USS Imagination” features a KILLER saxophone performed by – get this, not joking, you can’t make it up – Billy Horn. Yes.
Standout tracks: “No Sympathy For a Sinking Ship” and “Say Goodbye To General Figment of The USS Imagination”
Weakest track: “I Keep Living The Same Day” – too repetitive for my tastes, but thankfully it only lasts 61 seconds. I also can see the point the song attempts to make, with the “I keep living the same day” lyric repeated from beginning to end.
RIYL: Punk, thrash. Sex Positions, Glassjaw, Thursday, Fear Before the March of Flames, Head Wound City.