If modern Britain is an oppressive, dislocated mess, then London duo Bob Vylan provide the soundtrack. Their 2020 debut We Live Here caught the ears of rebel punk fans (and probably the authorities) with its incisive rages on racism, police brutality and media fear-mongering, and the clarity of singer Bobby Vylan’s messages.
But the convenient tag of ‘grime-punk’ didn’t do justice to a sonic outlook as wide as their social one; The Price Of Life employs all manner of musical weaponry to drive their pertinent points home. They turn to grime to unravel the dead-end desperation that breeds drug dealers (Must Be More).
To jungle-laced punk to tackle the police harassment, privatised healthcare and enforced poverty of Thatcher’s legacy. To languid reggae horns when arguing that cheap takeaway outlets constitute a social war on the poor, Bobby delivering dietary advice like a reggae-rap Jamie Oliver.
At their angriest – when railing against gun crime, surveillance culture, drug wars and radio stations churning out asinine rom-pop ‘while the country is crashing’ – they resort to visceral, doomy thrash and metal, all the better to hammer home slogans such as ‘Wage war against the state’, ‘England’s fucking dead, let it burn’, and ‘Alexa, take me to prison’.
Like their semi-namesake, Bob Vylan arrive as a much-needed wake-up call, but it’s one that’s already electric.