Words On Music presents It Means Nothing So It Means Nothing – the debut album by the English post-punk quartet Scumbag Philosopher.
The nine-song record's rhythmic frame of stabbing basslines and a sparse, but ferocious, two-drum kit anchors the kind of angular, buzzing guitars found on early Wire or Gang of Four records.
Call and response vocals between Grant Madden's soliloquizing baritone and drummer Anne Reekie's alto siren skewer popular and consumerist culture with alternating sincerity and sardonicism befitting its punk origins.
"Tickbox Exercise" launches the record with a commentary on bureaucratic culture and its senseless evaluative processes whilst Jon Burke lays down a bed of chaotic buzz-saw guitars.
Bassist Adam Green's unrelenting basslines, Burke's looping guitar melodies, and Reekie's cunning rhythms infuse songs like "I Like Sums" with a post-punk sensibility found in the grooves of albums like Gang of Four's Entertainment.
On "Your Heroes at Home," Madden pours a glass of cold water on celebrity culture by juxtaposing famous musicians with mundane imagery of their everyday life tasks, such as trimming the hedge or paying the gas bill.
Meanwhile, "Social Networking Site" satirizes the fleeting emotional half-life and deceits of Internet social interaction - a critique delivered with a knowing glance, as Scumbag Philosopher plasters its own social networking contacts all over the album's back cover.
But it is the album's centerpiece, "God Is Dead So I Listen to Radiohead," that delivers the biggest thematic and sonic knockout - whether or not one has a copy of Nietzsche's Ecce Homo on their bedside table, half unread or otherwise.
The song is a send-up on those who follow the philosopher, not through his writings, but through the lyrics of musicians who reference him. Slavishly adopting the world-view of these artists and the attendant record-buying subculture becomes its own religion, complete with props (Dansette portable record players), ritualistic behavior ("Clear plastic folder for all copies"), and ultimately consumerism ("Two copies purchased of everything. One to use, one to save.").
Taking cues from the punk records of their youth intertwined with a self-awareness lost on indie subscultures of yesterday and today, Scumbag Philosopher delivers a punch befitting the post, post-modern age in which there are skeptics of skeptics.
The end result is an album brimming with fiery confidence and songs that compel your hips to move to what is anti-hip and your mind to contemplate all the reasons why along the way.
1. tickbox exercise
2. i like sums
3. heroes at home
5. scumbag philosopher
6. god is dead so i listen to radiohead
7. sunshine corporation
8. social networking site
9. on the shortwave