I have spent not an inconsiderable amount of time over the years morning the passing of the political song. It seems odd to me that at a time when the world seems more divided, more intolerant, more entrenched…that rather than such concerns be reflected in the music being made we instead seem to revel in the vacuous, the shallow, the easily digested and the effortlessly consumable. Luckily we have acts such as Twilight Fields to show me that things may not be as bad as I make out.
Songs from the Age of Ruin stands out like a beacon to people like me, people whose formative years chimed to the sound of bands with something to say, solo guitar-slinging agitators, people who felt the need to comment on the world around them rather than merely write about being dumped in A minor to a four-four beat. People like New Model Army, Billy Bragg, The Waterboys, Midnight Oil and further back into the 60’s protest canon.
It’s a timely album, dealing with the modern versions of age old issues and doing so in interesting new styles. Demagogue blends shimmering shoegazery and indie-folk earnestness, synth-pop swagger and rabble-rousing lyrics to rally against political popularity, Maximum Darkness wanders through some instrumental post-rock minimalism, the exotic nature of the music speaking as loud as words of the songs around it and Animal Song takes folk into some darker places as it deals with the issue of animal rights as the title suggests. Quite poignantly the last three songs, Why Did We Do It? Loss and Barren Planet make up a suite of songs which explores the current issue of climate change and predicts an outcome that seems ironically both obvious to some and oblivious others.
It’s a great collection of songs, one that updates folk music, makes protest songs accessible, even poppy and infectious, blends the post-punk experimentalism of some early alt-rock bands with the new emerging consciousness of the current generation. In these dark times more and more people are trying to be heard. Some write letters, some make films, others hold rallies and thankfully some make music voicing their concerns. Remember when music could entertain and inform in equal measure, when it could raise more questions than it answered, when it gave you something to think about? I do and thankfully Twilight Fields does too. Maybe it’s not too late after all!