There’s a scene in ’90s cult classic TV series Spaced where Brian, an intensely eccentric artist, is asked what kinds of things he paints. Deadpan, he responds: “Anger. Pain. Fear. Aggression.” Throw in the corrosive effects of late capitalism, toxic nationalism and damaging right-wing ideology, and you’ve got a few of the topical building blocks that set Bad Breeding on fire.
It’s been eight years since they came barracking out of Stevenage – a place where, according to the band, “nothing happens, except nothingness itself” – and they’re still fomenting a potent fury few others can match. But even after dealing with more than a decade of austerity, political corruption and “unattainable Tory-painted dreams”, Bad Breeding are less focused on mindless diatribes, and more about trying to point a few ways forward. Sure, they’re fucking angry, but they’re also trying to be optimistic, and if these last few weeks of union action have taught as anything, anger is a gift when it’s applied in the right places.
It’s a backdrop that makes the timing of Human Capital and its wider message so deliciously perfect. Opener ‘Community’ hits with a bombastic violence, ‘Joyride’ tears away at a crashing BPM, ‘Misdirection’ judders and jolts with frenzied bursts of brain-battering percussion and searing guitar, and ‘Death March Replacement’ buzzes and barrages between Charlie Rose’s scuzzing bass and Chris Dodd’s straining, guttural vocal energy.
Make no mistake, this is still an album that’s brutal to its core with Dodd’s frothing vocals battling the barrage of noise until his last, choking breath – to tracks that hit like objects of blunt force trauma – but it bites with the intelligence and zeal of a manifesto, just as much as it threatens to break down the door in anger. More than that, Human Capital is a call for the collective, a purposeful ode to solidarity – a visceral representation of the deep, internal noise that most of us have long felt. That it’s arrived in this moment is serendipitous. But whenever it arrived, it was always going to be an anthem of raging, rallying consequence.