The record rides a sort of highly glossed, pumped-up synth sheen, redolent of those La Dusseldorf or La! Neu? recordings; with repetitive, insistent electronic beats cracking the whip.
Now this is pretty great stuff, despite me thinking oh lawd, not another state of the nation record… Frankly, although certainly no fan of Margaret Thatcher, I simply can’t be arsed regurgitating all my memories of that era – whatever the charms of the memory trigger. It’s gone, and shouting blue murder about it, especially when done by “those who weren’t there” so to speak, often seems to be the worst celebration of the agitator’s own safety and immunity.
Luckily for me (at any rate) this LP seems to be a subtle, often charming attempt at both charting the parallels between the Thatcher years and the UK at present; (them nasty Tories, innit), and being a thumping dance record. Although the last track Farewell You Old Queen (I Won’t Cry At Your Funeral) is straightforward in its message and appropriate as a curtain closer, Britain Isn’t Working is for the most part comprised of very danceable instrumentals – with the odd interjection from dismembered voices, sometimes Brenda herself (she pops up on the opener Maggie’s Farm). The record rides a sort of highly glossed, pumped-up synth sheen, redolent of those La Dusseldorf or La! Neu? recordings; with repetitive, insistent electronic beats cracking the whip.
ASBOlutely Filthy and Laptop Loyal are fantastically sleazy work outs, traversing a lot of elements, Soft Cell, JM Jarre, a wee bit of Gabba too: a sort of pumped up AshRa maybe re-recorded by some bedroom composer who also likes a merciless work out in a city centre gym. It’s a shame that they are that bit short in length as they could be really something if given their head. Welcome to Home, Kevin Keegan is a relentless thump that strives to make peace (via a form of subjugation, you would guess) with a host of bleeping noises, and another track that could have delivered more if left alone for another minute or three. Now and again there are strains of Studio G in the weird electronic soundscapes that get thrown up; but often this is a very clear, clean sound, looking to lay down a beat and a hook and worry about the rest later on. Highlight has to be Europe Was My Playground which is a superb revamping of that tinny Depeche Mode sound, that “ding ding ding” melody trick, now arraigned with sonic ornament: boasting a sort of clear-sighted Europe Endless vibe to top things off.
It’s good, enjoyable stuff and the caustic message is not rammed down your throat so you can engage with it if you so wish. In any case I’ll stick to laughing through Brenda’s Iron Sledge for my retro-political fix.