With ‘Brains Of Britain’ Ste McCabe shows that on album number four, he’s lost none of his witty punk zest
ike Mark E Smith, Ste McCabe is a writer for whom wit and venom are complementary weapons and like The Fall, clattering punk is the bow from which he fires his arrows. A punk songwriter Ste may be, but Fool opens Brains Of Britain with near confrontational electro—the sort that Depeche Mode might have composed if their synths were made of broken glass—before evolving into an enraged take on The Cure’s Fascination Street. This meeting of punk, electro and post punk continues in the Billy Bragg-featuring Cockroach.
After this, McCabe eases off slightly on the synth tones. The Family Values Song is the Wire homage that The Libertines threatened, but could never pull off, while Chinless Wonders is the sort of pop song that Damon Albarn might have made, if mid 90s Blur aped the 80s rather than the 60s and disregarded all pretence of Top 40 success. The snotty Them There Different People and chugging What Are You Worth are further highlights.
Brains Of Britain is a record will appeal to those for whom their late teens are spiritually in the early 80s; when the synth and guitar fought for the right to possess punk’s soul. It’s also possessed of a refreshing wit, one that’ll have you reaching for the spray can and lacing walls with graffiti.
Verdict: Punk and synth pop fight for precedence