WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear

(Settled Law)


At the opening of the third decade of the 21st century, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that “being a canonical all-male four-piece making relevant guitar-based music” is a pretty difficult task.

Surprisingly, Bristolian band Lice succeeded in getting this arduous achievement with their new LP WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear. Inspired by punk and post-punk royalty like Psychic TV, Dead Kennedys, Suicide and The Birthday Party, and deeply rooted and involved with their city’s art and music scene (the influence of Idles is audible here as well), the band follows in the footsteps of Wire and Fat White Family by mixing a taste for the abhorrent with solid writing,

Like a prose-poems collection (reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s similarly-titled work) or a dystopian short story, Alastair Shuttleworth pens a real libretto to accompany the album, with each song a paragraph in a wider narrative. In the eleven tracks of the record, we follow along the going-ons of Stan, the Conveyor of the mysterious RCD, and Dr Coehn [sic] through uncanny human engineering experiments aiming to the extinction of mankind. They describe it as a “satire of satire,” delivered by a slurred vocal that’s frequently blasted by reverbs and distortion. A landslide of sounds pours all over the cry for help for art and culture that is central to the narrative, and they don’t miss any opportunity to point the finger towards music PRs, journalists, and the crowd as an individual entity – admittedly, not the most original themes when it comes to satire. Overall though, this album demonstrates that they have learned valuable lessons from their impressive predecessors.