It would be an anomaly for a punk band to release a full record that doesn’t at least touch on the United States’ current political landscape at the moment. Hell, many punk musicians may describe it an ethical duty to put the Trump administration in their crosshairs—that ignoring it would be considered punk rock malpractice.
So it was no surprise when Gang of Four released a single wearing Ivanka Trump’s name and announced their new EP, Complicit. After all, they had remained fairly political in their music since their 1979 critically acclaimed debut Entertainment!
But the difference between their latest effort and past political releases from Gang of Four is the subtlety—or lack thereof.
The lead track, “Lucky”, could either be a direct address to the Trump administration or perhaps an introspective attempt to draw similarities between the narrator and Donald Trump himself. He sings early: “All the years is a long time/But what costs the most is free/I’m a double-jointed conman/I specialize in mimicry”.
The music itself could be taunting to a fan who last heard Gang of Four in their early 1980’s prime. The post-punk style they established themselves with is entirely absent in Complicit and replaced with aggressive synths and drum machines. The second track and the EP’s single “Ivanka” sounds more like a song that young Gang of Four would have rallied against in the disco-dominated 1980’s.
On Complicit, Gang of Four effectively abandoned everything that made them great. Their sense of duty to make a commentary on the United States’ politics was achieved, but their duty to make good music was abandoned.