Thee Concerned Citizens (Thee Cee Cees): Solution Songs – album review

Thee Cee Cees Album cover

Thee Concerned Citizens (Thee Cee Cees) – Solution Songs (Blang Records)

CD / DL / Ltd Edition Minidisc

Release date 5th May

Bertolt Brecht said…

‘Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.’

Building on this idea the sleeve notes to Solution Songs, forthcoming album from Thee Cee Cees read:

“If music is art then let it be a hammer, not a mirror.
An artist accepting a bourgeois society is useless.

“We need no more protest songs.
We will sing SOLUTION SONGS
Sing along”

Released on 05 May 2015 (election week if anyone needs reminding!), Solution Songs packs a punch with acerbic irony and a clarity of doctrine intensified by the best of post punk spirit and energy: tight, driving rhythms, memorable hooks and a sense of self-deprecation. The album evokes all the vibrancy and passion characteristic of strong resistance, with no trace of dispirited dirge.

Thee Cee Cees collective comprises: Chris T-T (Xtra Mile), Adam Devlin (The Bluetones), Steve’ Smiley’ Barnard (Strummer / Foxton / The Alarm), Billy Brentford (Thee Faction) Andy Lewis (Paul Weller / Spearmint / Pimlico), Kerry Schultz, Darren Hayman and Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief).

‘What happened to the anger? This aint what I remember when we were fighting Mrs Thatcher’ sings Chris T-T on opening track, ‘Did I miss that meeting comrade?’ He articulates a feeling many will identify with and rallies a cry of rebellion and defiance with the comeback of the ‘Deft Left’. Parodying ‘funereal’ keyboard is countered by Kerry Schultz’s powerful affirmation of what’s to come, at a belting pace reminiscent of Martha Reeves. Title track, the anthemic Solution Songs, gets to the heart of Thee Cee Cees’ positive vibes. Soapbox is the ‘resolution’ song of the album: once true to the cause, always true. Without a trace of piety, the music is full of celebration and fight.

Angsty ‘Don’t Call on Rock ‘n’ Roll, Call on G.D.H Cole’ defines a limit on the tokenism of pop politics, ‘If you wanna end the injustice and the hurt, you gotta do better than a Ramones T-shirt’. Guitars pound with a timbre of severity. Continuing in this vein ‘Have an Analysis’ follows: ‘We laugh at politicians, we take comics seriously’. The rhythms embed in ever grittier beats and strings. Drawing back from irony to reflect on commitment and loyalty, ‘Never Cross’, referencing solidarity to the unions, again recalls resonating allegiances from the 1980’s.

Vibrant and unifying ‘Better than Wages’ celebrates life and the value of having time to enjoy yourself. On resolute ‘Vote!’ textured instrumentation and vocal blends climax in the positive sense of action focusing on hope and change. The title of track 9 (an instrumental refrain) suffices as textual expression of the sentiment: ‘Iain Duncan Smith’s Weeping Hemorrhoids’. Heralding track ‘Ready?’ gives a sense of what comes after May 2015 and the belief in a rejuvenation of resistance. Referencing Jerusalem ‘Relentless’ presents the velvet gloved iron fist of elitism and class prejudice, couched in waves of instrumentation provided by Manic Street Preachers’ string section bringing the polemic to a powerful end.

Thee Cee Cees blaze with positive drive, Solution Songs brings out the lyricism of their political discourse, fired up with urgency by feisty musical arrangements, ringing the changes.

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