What Happened Next? Something Entirely Different
For a band as long lasting and influential as British post-punk outfit Gang of Four, the departure of a lead singer can signify the end of an era, or worse it can lead to a group of desperate has-beens grasping at musical straws to remain relevant. With the introduction of John Sterry – which leaves guitarist Andy Gill as the only original member left in the group – Gang of Four’s newest release, What Happens Next, is certainly no Entertainment! but that’s okay. When a band has been playing music for nearly 40 years, they deserve the opportunity to change their sound up every once in a while, which is something that the band has certainly done more than once during their career.
What Happens Next‘s opening track, “Where the Nightingale Sings,” may throw listeners for a bit of a loop, this is definitely not the matured punk record you might expect, but post punk has always been a genre with space for experimentation. The addition of electronic music may alienate some listeners, but it also has the potential to entice a whole new generation of punks, raised on an increasingly electro-based music scene. A highlight on the record is “Broken Talk,” which features poppy and engaging vocals from Alison Mosshart of the Kills. If Gang of Four had decided to employ Mosshart for the rest of the album, they could have very well produced one of the most interesting post punk releases of the decade. Not surprisingly, Mosshart’s other appearance, “England’s In My Bones,” is another outstanding high point on the album.
When you really think about it, changing up their sound was the best thing Gang of Four could have done for themselves to stay interesting in today’s musical climate. Do listeners really need another group of old punks trying to play the same five songs that got them famous in the 1970s? Probably not. What Happens Next may not be the most punk record to come out this year, and it may not be the best, but it IS interesting and in 2015, that can mean a heck of a lot.