Taken out of the context of their stage gimmick (instruments built into logs, ritualistic forest costuming) the music from London’s Snapped Ankles has always stood on its own. The band’s sound glides the knife edge between Krautrock and post-punk in a satisfying way – marrying the motorik grooves of Neu and Can to the caustic accusations of The Fall and the brittle tension of Wire. On their previous album they used the combination to explore shades of paganism burrowing under the veil of modernity. Now they go one shade heavier and a few steps deeper with an album that’s built to blow out the prosperity gospel from the inside and topple the creep of gentrification with the power of art-punk. Or so it would seem.
The themes on Stunning Luxury send up the corporate culture and indulgent inclinations of the developers and agents of change that seek to gentrify the landscape of Snapped Ankles’ warehouse scene. Class War and art-politik have always had a place in post-punk and they continue the tradition quite nicely, welding the rumble-funk of Liquid Liquid to the smirking slash of Gang of Four. They’re taking on the creep of capitalism’s basest impulses with a beat battered mirror – sucking the helium out of mindfulness, microdosing, and money management with equal vigor.
All the subversive slapback doesn’t mean a thing, though, if its not digestible and that’s where Stunning Luxury finds its foothold. The band’s catchy enough to underscore the best promotional clip on the power of positive thinking. It could easily integrate into the culture that they’re seeking to shred. Whether that means they get co-opted or they make a few middle managers think twice remains to be seen. The transformative power of music vs. capital isn’t a winning ratio in 2019, but the album remains an enjoyable ride with well-deserved targets nonetheless.
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