Gang of Four – Happy Now
The result of Gang of Four's attempts to assimilate different elements of rock history on Happy Now is like a terrifying amalgamation of Muse and Duran Duran
"We had an idea that we moved forward with; but now it’s crumbled and turned to dust" – Andy Gill, Gang of Four
Gang of Four: once thrilling, rebellious and vital denigrators of a particular place and time, now a depressing antithesis of what once was. Their trajectory is a confused, conflicting one: from influential paragons of the late 70s and early 80s post-punk era to unapologetic purveyors of vapid, lifeless dad-rock. Indeed, there’s something tragic about a decidedly ‘anti-rockist’ band rocking out.
That’s exactly why this version of Gang of Four just doesn’t work. Stripped of the band’s famed essence, the agitated pop of yore is foregone in favour of something that sounds formulaic and uninspired. Meanwhile, the scathing but playful political diatribes that imbue 1979’s groundbreaking Entertainment! are a distant memory; a confounding development, considering the current monumental shit-storm of British politics.
Happy Now attempts to assimilate rock’s history, while incorporating more modern, electronic themes. The results are something akin to a terrifying amalgamation of Muse and Duran Duran. It’s not an impossible concept – Wire, for instance, have shown us that you can be a veteran band while continuing to push the envelope. Arguably, Gang of Four’s downfall can be traced back as far as the early 80s, but the departure of Jon King – the force behind the band’s bitterly analytical lyrics – is partially to blame for the lack of danger here, and indeed, on everything they’ve done since.