"We need none of your protest songs, we will sing solution songs, sing along!". It's been debated quite extensively about what has become of music's role in shaping society for the better. From Dylan to Bragg to Asian Dub Foundation and way beyond, popular music had a long history of successful acts calling for change and bringing important issues to public consciousness. Has that disappeared in recent years? To a point, yes. Certainly the mainstream is bereft of anything remotely political, and those acts that do try and put their thoughts to music are, shall we say, not always that good. Step forward Thee Cee Cees; a collective who don't just talk about the state of the nation or moan about governments, they want to offer real solutions, and they want to do it in the form of some blinding garage tracks.
The fight for the welfare state, soapboxes, the Thatcher years and picket lines might seem like dated topics to sing about, but maybe that's exactly the problem; people miss parallels between now and the past, people have forgotten to learn from past mistakes because they don't know what those mistakes were. Chris T-T, Steve 'Smiley' Barnard, Adam Devlin, Billy Brentford and Andy Lewis, without being rude, aren't exactly teenagers. They remember when left wing meant something and when the Labour party stood for certain values. "Well you were thinking that there's no left left, well here we come now, deft left" is the rallying cry of opener 'Deft Left' which asks what happened to the anger of the past and just when we surrendered to submission. It's a high-octane, blues-tinged punk track that ignites a real spark.
The aforementioned 'Solution Songs' continues to bring the fight and the political knowledge back, using the kind of anthemic guitar tune that Libertines fans would lap up. Single 'Soapbox' is another belter that talks of liberalism, capitalism and class consciousness. They've got plenty more where they come from and we could spend all day discussing the points raised. Some song titles speak for themselves, such as 'Have An Analysis' or 'Vote!' which is about as direct as you can be, however futile that process can seem at times. Musically the only real change comes in a curious instrumental that could be a '70s kids' TV theme. Its title? 'Iain Duncan Smith's Weeping Hemorrhoids' (sic). So it's not all serious faces and rabble-rousing. The following track, 'Ready?', certainly fits the second of those two descriptions, but it's a riot musically. "As middle England slumbers in the palaces they built for the few/I'm encouraged by our swell in numbers, soon they'll be built anew. You rich no nothing of the poor's existence, unless they're served up as delinquents" is sung over a string-laden, Disney-esque lullaby on gorgeous closer 'Relentless'.
There are many messages, ideas, much anger, and also a little humour to what Thee Cee Cees (or The Concerned Citizens to give them their full name) have offered up on this album. So if you're wondering what's happened to genuine political messages with genuine knowledge and experience in popular music, then be assured it's alive and screaming here. Let's just hope a few more people start taking notice, although it doesn't sound as though these guys will be going anywhere until their job is done. 'Solution Songs' could just be the start, and it's a mighty way to kick things off.