Political punk rockers make waves
This album marks the first time that Anti-Flag has directly attacked a presidential figure. For the first time in 25 years, they’re singling out a political figure as a focal point for their album, along with the classic Anti-Flag statements regarding climate change, neo-fascism, white-supremacy, homophobia and transphobia. 20/20 Vision is a critical take on the so-called “American dream.”
The Pittsburgh band is composed of singer/guitarist Justin Sane, drummer Pat Thetic, guitarist Chris Head and singer/bassist Chris Barker. The album’s professional nature is indicative of of the foursome’s decades of punk experience. Expertly mixed, entertaining and flamboyant, this album gets straight to the point without any frivolous details. On the surface, many of the songs seem fairly simple and straightforward musically. A closer inspection reveals complex vocal layering, a multitude of instrumental effects and intriguing melodies. Each of the songs on 20/20 Vision is a distinctive take on the current political climate, with equally individualized sounds.
The album jumps straight into political commentary with opener “Hate Conquers All,” which scatters audio clips of Trump exclaiming various offenses throughout the three-minute song. “Hate Conquers All” sets the stage for an album packed with splitting guitar and percussion accompanies accosting lyricism. The album’s namesake, “20/20 Vision,” comes early in the album as track three and brings a rock-and-roll twist to Anti-Flag’s narrative. Other impactful songs include the synth layered “Christian Nationalist,” which sings a scathing review of alt-right conservatives, and the orchestral sound of “A Nation Sleeps”—juxtaposing the band’s clashing metal sounds with the softness of violin and cello tunes.
The three most outstanding tracks of 20/20 Vision are “Un-American,” “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” and closer “Resistance Frequencies.” Acoustic guitar and hints of bluegrass accompany mellow vocals in “Un-American’s” ballad of the failed American dream. From the melancholy country tunes of “Un-American” burst forth the Celtic punk sounds found in “Resistance Frequencies.” Simple guitar effects and drumming accent a powerful horn melody throughout “Resistance Frequencies,” forming a fascinating revolutionary meter. The best song of the album is “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down.” It’s the most traditionally punk on the album, seeming to pull from the classic ’80s British punk sound. Sane rattles off realist lyrics with a tinge of hopefulness as the song crackles with the energy of an Irish jig. Though the song is aggressive, it remains approachable for the casual listener.
20/20 Vision is Anti-Flag’s courageous stand against the policy-based destruction of America. The album is both timely and terrifying in its take on the modern political scene’s impact on the everyday American. Overall, a fulfilling and necessary release by Anti-Flag.