Free To Do As You Are Told -Thought Crimes (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

This 4 song sonic slice comes, lyrically at least, from a wonderfully subversive place. Although lyrically might not be the right word as its vocal component comes in the form of spoken word pieces, sound bites and film quotes, a sort of word collage which is used to point at everything that is wrong with the modern world, sometimes jokingly, other times with deadly seriousness. And, considering the spikey and critical eye it casts around, the music is made up of sublime ebbs and flows of chiming and charming guitar.

Get Your Shit Together opens with a public health announcement, though it soon becomes clear that it is more Bonzo Dog Band than World Health Organisation in its tone. As beats build and shimmering sonics cascade around, our tongue in cheek host continues to comment on the state of society today, contrasting ideas of an over-populated planet with the rise of AI and surveillance.

With Agent Smith’s soliloquy on humanity ringing in our ears, I Hate This Place, blends smooth tones with heavier textures and by the time we get to Human Beings Are A Disease, we are in the realms of groove-driven alt-rock, somehow both cinematic and funky, chiming with sonorous punctuation and cocooning itsself with squalling guitars as it heads towards the finish line.

The final track, The End, juxtaposes recent news reports regarding injustices and protest with gentle acoustic guitar, slowly growing in intensity through the addition of sweeping string washes, and touching on ideas of literacy and censorship, privacy and liberty and what our future might look like if we allow the powers that be to march over us unchecked.

Free To Do As You Are Told is a rare thing, an album with plenty to say about politics and society, free will and what the future might hold, but it doesn’t preach or rant. It’s far too smart for that. The words are only montages, thoughts and ideas that are already in the public domain, some of them in very obvious places, others more obscure and academic. And all Thought Crimes does here is present this information anew, reframes the ideas and arguments reminding us that change is up to us and that freedom is often hard-won. But this time around the argument is driven home by smart sonics, beautiful arrangements and intricate musical layers.

Will this be enough to make people sit up and take notice? Let’s hope so, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

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