Thursday, February 8, 2018
Down and Outs - Double Negative
I always love a band that aspires to write anthems, and I can think of no better word to describe the majority of these songs than "anthemic". And that's really what separates Down and Outs from a lot of similarly styled bands. These songs are so genuinely rousing that they continually have me out of my chair and pumping my fist as if the band were right there in front of me. Mark Magill has written some very serious songs about a variety of subjects, and he really has a way of imbuing these songs with a passion that's palpable. While not fully a "political" record, Double Negative does contain a number of songs that speak to our present condition. The folk anthem "You Can Have This Country Back" is specifically about the state of affairs in a post-Brexit U.K. Yet it's remarkable how everything this song rails against is just as pervasive and problematic on my side of the pond as well. "What Did You Do In The Culture Wars?" reflects on how recent political events have emboldened those who revel in intolerance. It's based on a real-life encounter that Magill had with an individual who advocated the banishment of disabled people. As you can imagine, he did not stand silent!
When it's not political, Double Negative is deeply personal and extremely emotional. "Astoria" is a break-up song that's about as gut-wrenching and cinematic as you can get in 91 seconds. In other spots, Magill pours all he's got into songs about death and grief. Even "Heartbreak Radio", a song ostensibly about mixed tapes, digs deeper into the things from which we're often trying to escape when we turn to the healing power of music. I appreciate the amount of heart and intelligence that went into these songs. But what really brings it all home is how fervently the band sells each track. Magill sings his guts out, and the band powers through every note like it really means it. The energy is undeniable, and man do those choruses ever deliver! All in all, an absolutely brilliant album!