Beat Rhythm Fashion: Critical Mass (Failsafe/digital outlets)

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What We've Become
Beat Rhythm Fashion: Critical Mass (Failsafe/digital outlets)

Beat Rhythm Fashion would be very familiar to anyone going to gigs in Wellington around 1980 but for many they were more spoken of than heard, despite some excellent singles.

However their story was far from over after they disbanded in 1982 . . . although there was a fairly lengthy hiatus.

About 36 years of hiatus in fact, until singer/writer/guitarist Nino Birch and drummer Caroline Easther (Chills, Verlaines etc) reconnected and reformed BRF with guitarist Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records.

The result was the album Tenterhook in 2019.

Mayes had been a longtime supporter (Failsafe released a BRF compilation Bring Real Freedom in the mid 2000s) and since their re-formation he has released the Beings Rest -- Finally collection of early BRF rarities.

And now comes an album of new and recent BRF material by Birch, Easther and Mayes which is a real step up. It's a full embrace of moody and melodic Goth-like dream pop (on the addictively droning and increasingly intense Fall and Rise Again) which has impressive sonic breadth from bassist Mayes on jangling guitars and Birch's intelligent, thought-provoking sociopolitical lyrics.

On the weary No Wonder, Birch -- who plays most of the guitars across these songs -- links the personal with the universal. It could be about a family disagreement or the weight of the world: “It’s no wonder we're where we are now, it’s no wonder we feel we're down and out.”

The melodic Asylum is a kind of melange of the Eighties angst and the present day: “This is not my world. Would you make it go away, bombs are blowing overhead and I search the rubble for my friend”.

Although birthed in post-punk era BRF are not locked into that period but rather deal with the current climate of pervasive misinformation on World View: “What’s streaming now is that our own world view is not immune to what’s screaming out is that what’s true for some might just not be true for you”.

And on the surging pop of We Be Free: “I'll tell you how this could go down, if your leaders won't listen to the crowd”.

There's a kind of uncomfortable ambiguity here however: leaders in many Western countries (and India right now) are listening to the crowd which is lurching and pulling to the conservative, if not radical, Right.

The converse of these discomforts however is a big ballad like Remote Science which offers “We’ll all be here don’t you know? No need to fear . . . .Come on home”.

And Exit Here skewers the divisive leadership (“can't wait to redecorate your halls of hate”) and So Be It is terrific power pop.

So Be It
 

So here is a collection of questioning but often reassuring pop-rock which comes with radio-friendly melodies and hooks (What We've Become, World View).

As always, Failsafe packages up a limited run of handsome CDs – double gatefold sleeve, art and lyrics – which you can get from their website.

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