Although many genres of music have shared an intimate relationship with politics and social revolution, few have the storied legacy that rock music has with modern reform. Since its inception, rock n’ roll has been a consistent vehicle for affecting change in the western world and beyond. The Beatles championed the free love movement a half century ago, punk rockers kept the fight against oppression alive in the 1980s, and now under one of the most controversial administrations any of us have ever – and likely will ever – see, Seattle, Washington-based The Refusers are ensuring that acts of audiological rebellion stay alive in the 21st century via their all-new LP Disobey released this week.
Disobey is a record that was made in the spirit of the old school punk rock of yesteryear. The songs are efficiently arranged, sharply delivered with cutting riffs and vocals to match them, and above all else, they’re lyrically to the point. For The Refusers, it isn’t enough to just lay out an agenda in a song – it’s got to be clear, concise and without any frills. There isn’t any room for metaphors or overindulgent syntax, just a sleekly designed lightning bolt that unleashes a boom on command and can stop on a dime when the band needs to move to the next subject. Some artists who have tried to employ the same formula end up sounding fragmented in their execution; The Refusers avoid that by making sure that every song is as diversely appointed as the one that preceded it (no easy feat for any act).
Some might be inclined to automatically assume that Disobey is geared towards one end of the ideological spectrum over the other, but that simply isn’t the case. Tracks like “Fake News” and “Emancipation” are songs that need to be heard by every American in 2018 regardless of their political affiliation, not because they point out the shortcomings of our President or his detractors, but because they highlight the desperate need for all of us to be focused and paying attention to the way our world is unraveling around us. There is something that’s undebatable in the era we’re in, and it’s our collective obligation to stay abreast of the imprint our actions leave on the planet – for better, or for worse.
There’s still plenty of work we’re going to have to do to leave Earth in a little more pleasant and refined state than we all found it in, but The Refusers are doing their part to contribute to the reconstruction of our global ideals one awesome song at a time. In just the nine neatly compiled songs found on Disobey, they challenge everything from international pharmaceutical companies and their role in our everyday lives to the act of war itself and whether or not it’s ever justified to take another human life. The dialogue is viciously imagistic and the music will evoke a strong urge to act, but something tells me that both were within the intentions of The Refusers and the devotion to civil liberty that inspires them.
-review by Jodi Marxbury