Vant's debut album, "Dumb Blood", is awash with piss and vinegar. It surfs the tsunami of contemporary global spleen and seeks to awake a sleeping generation from its mute inertia. To say the band is 'impassioned' would be as much of an understatement as calling Trump's inauguration crowds 'sparse' or 'underwhelming'.
'The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion'. Albert Camus said that, but it could as easily have come straight from the urbanely-politicised frontman Mattie Vant himself - to be found on Question Time sooner or later no doubt (come on BBC, make this happen) tearing BoJo new one. We live in hope. Politicised musicians have a chequered history, from the lauded 'Tom Joad' protest songs of Woody Guthrie, to dogmatic, ear-bashing 'Achtung, Bono' pontifications. The agit-rock of "Dumb Blood" raises swearily irreverent, yet necessary human questions, likely to turn any listener into either a lover or a fighter of some ilk. They sure don't shirk the big stuff, with songs about warmongering, gun ownership, campus sexual assaults and atheism, plus attacks on cynical news media and sentience-sapping social media.
At the same time, they'll give you bits of every bloody good guitar band you've ever liked. Not because they're derivative, but because they're infectiously catchy. The Sonic Youth guitar solo on "Put Down Your Gun" demands multiple listens, the Frank Black screams of 'Everything is dumb with this generation' on "Lampoon Everything" defy you to disagree and the bristling garage punk of "Parking Lot" is overwhelmingly heady, like the uncontrolled parking lot urges of the entitled scrote in the song. The chorus, 'Wait a minute, 'cos your heart's not in it,' serves as sound cautionary advice to any vainglorious college swanker out there.
"Headed for the Sun" gives Malcolm Middleton's sentiments on "We're All Going to Die" a newly uplifting Pavement-like energy. After multiple short, sharp provocations and having given apathy the biggest wedgie its lazy arse has ever had, they drop the seven-minute post-rock, "Are We Free?" near the end, its psychedelic intro (complete with sonar noises) longer than some entire songs and its outro a cathartic Explosions in the Sky wig-out. It's only a hiatus from the turbulence, before love bruises in growling Grohlfest "Karma Seeker" and soberingly, "Time and Money" represents all we have left in this 'cheap thrill, landfill' world - a frisky, driving finale that seemingly ends in nuclear abyss.
'Vant' should become official shorthand for 'observant' and 'relevant'. The NHS should prescribe "Dumb Blood" as a remedy for brainache. This February, why not stick some alt-facts up a Republican's jacksie and some of this alt-rock in your ears? You'll feel grand.
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