Amidst a presidential election, war and recession is an ideal time for political hardcore group Anti-Flag to release their latest album, The Bright Lights of America. Pittsburghâ€šÃ„Ã´s Anti-Flag want to make a statement and stay on point with a message record in the tradition of punk rock activism. The orchestrated and well-produced album is more aligned with modern group Green Dayâ€šÃ„Ã´s American Idiot than the Dead Kennedys and their â€šÃ„Ã²70s/â€šÃ„Ã´80s radical punk contemporaries.Anti-Flag enlisted the surprising aid of iconic producer Tony Visconti (of David Bowie and T Rex fame) to create an enormous backdrop with a childrenâ€šÃ„Ã´s choir and symphony to add nuance to their brash sound. An angry mob of teenagers storming the Bastille is the best way to describe the convergence of sounds. For any artist with a political voice, the landmark is in the lyrics. The slant is one of a dangerous grand sweeping nationalism and an empire in decline. â€šÃ„ÃºThe Modern Rome Burningâ€šÃ„Ã¹ contains the bold proclamation, â€šÃ„ÃºThis nation’s burning/burning down /This nation’s burning to the ground.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Title track â€šÃ„ÃºThe Bright Lights of Americaâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is the bouncy single with the dark undertone, â€šÃ„ÃºThe bright lights of America/life and death in a sold out â€šÃ„Ã²Merica.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The album contains a surprising cover of the Village Peopleâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºGo Westâ€šÃ„Ã¹ which, despite seeming like an outlier, compliments perfectly the theme of all the tracks by providing the possible antidote of hope to the heed of warning.
Notwithstanding the added timpani, Anti-Flagâ€šÃ„Ã´s eighth studio album pulls no punches. Thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s sheen to the seething anger. The Bright Lights of America may have changed the packaging of punk politics with an adventurous style but not the soul.