Track/ video review
Benefits – Flag
When LTW featured Benefits -the band- previously at Christmas we jokingly suggested their uncompromising blend of political/art/noise protest would make a great Xmas hit. This was days before a moronic song made a serious attempt at the seasonal number one. Benefits knew LTW was just trying to find a way to broaden their listenership. How do you promote a radical, intense art collective like them? Their audience will find them, thinks Ged Babey.
An issues based music collective from Teesside in the North East of England. We write songs about the urgencies that concern us. These songs are loud.
Protest music didn’t start with Anarchy in the UK, Nazi Punks Fuck Off! or the Manic Street Preachers ‘Repeat’. The last being the most relevant here with its explicit ‘dumb flag scum’ line.
Sleaford Mods won’t be the last great British band to carry some kind of banner for disenfranchised rage. Benefits are kinda like a hardcore S/Mods – the Discharge to their Pistols.
You thought Bob Vylan were the only new band (making) Killing Punk Rock… bringing it into this century…
But even punk analogies are redundant and dated when it comes to Benefits. They do sound new and turbocharged. The videos are stark and confrontational. The feel is like that of a physical performance poet. Or a scene from a play full of dramatized rage from a skilled actor on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
You can’t singalong to this protest song. You can just be floored by it’s visceral, unrelenting charge into your consciousness.
It enacts and engages with and rages against the cultural civil war taking place in the UK over recent years. And you are left in no doubt which side Benefits are on.
Fuck nationalism, fuck xenophobia, fuck the monarchy, the Tories, the class traitors…
“Flag” is about trying to understand Great Britain’s place in the world today behind its shambolic and angry appearance. It’s a reaction against British politicians using nationalism as a red, white and blue seducer to drag the country’s eyes and brains away from the calamity they live in. The weird obsession the country has with war; the arrogance of how illustrious it thinks it is perceived to be by the rest of the world; and the misguided view that by simply waving a flag you somehow paper over the crack of simultaneously despising millions of your countrymen, presumably including fellow patriots.
You could argue that Patriotism need not be negative but Flag deals with the lived experience rather than theory.
Are Benefits Music For Pleasure? How can they best be enjoyed? Loud and on headphones whilst you go for a jog through the psychic wreckage of this green and pleasant land.
All words Ged Babey (press release content in italics)