At a time when delays are par for the course, you have to admire The Alarm’s dedication to instant gratification. The new album, written and recorded in isolation, will physically arrive with fans six weeks from its inception thanks to a pre-ordered CD-Rom they can burn themselves. In the age of streaming it’s adorably quaint.
War is very much a snapshot of the COVID era created by a man who knows more than a thing or two about survival against the odds. After months of governmental “hands, face, space”, frontman Mike Peters’ simplistic sloganeering on opener Protect And Survive (“it’s the only way to stay alive”) seems like a reasonable response.
Black Crowes riffs and synths doing their best impression of Led Zeppelin’s string section bolster the rallying cry of We Got This, while the message of the Tribes [Stop The War] – a song so U2 it practically sneaks onto your iPhone without permission – is obvious, but one you really can’t argue with.
Glossing over an odd cover of Massive Attack’s Safe From Harm featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe, which strips out the soul of the original in favour of baggy early-90s TOTP vibes, War is at its best sticking to its own tried and tested pop-rock path, one unencumbered by notions of cool but paved with plenty of heart.