Propagandhi - Victory Lap (Cover Artwork)

Propagandhi

Victory Lap (2017)

Epitaph


It would be easy to say that Propagandhi have been doing the same thing since 2005’s Potemkin City Limits, but that same thing they’ve been doing has been putting out absolutely stunning records. Few bands have made the monumental changes in their career that Propagandhi has, transforming from a skate punk band with above average political intelligence but fairly literal, straight forward lyrics, into a dark thrash/punk band with complexly poetic and politically radical lyrics, sprinkled with a dose of humor when you least expect it. Victory Lap follows in the same vein, complete with their anarchistic sense of tempo and rhythm where songs can change on a dime, digging you into a good groove before abruptly abandoning it for a lightning fast guitar riff. This album even brightens up the darkness with the occasional dash of—gasp!—melody! It also adds a new musician to the mix as Propagandhi’s first female member, Sulynn Hago—whose addition to the band was at least partially due to the fact that her audition tape identified her as “a raging vegan Hispanic lesbian”—transitions into the band while David Guillas gradually transitions out of the band to take a teaching job, with both guitarists featured on the album, but Guillas’s role significantly diminished.

The title track is classic Propagandhi, a driving fast hardcore song, but it’s also distinctly Propagandhi in 2017, as they address the slogans #NotAllCops and #NotAllMen and encourages users of these nonsense phrases to “sit back, relax, and watch it all burn!” “Comply/Resist” uses the band’s notable sense of irony to begin with a monologue of all the things white people say to people of color that they think are innocent but are ragingly racist. “Failed Imagineer” is a spot of brightness in Propagandhi’s normally gloomy musical landscape, almost translating into a Bad Religion song, but of course the lyrical tone doesn’t match the musical tone as the song tells the story of old men destroyed by the horrors of war. The album’s closing track, “Adventures in Zoochosis,” actually made me ponder the question “Is it possible to be sarcastically melodic?” The track starts off with a light, pop-style guitar riff over the sound of children laughing, and then switches into Donald Trump’s infamous “Grab ‘em by the pussy” recording followed by one of his campaign rallies where he got the crowd chanting for the border wall with Mexico. It then launches into a surprisingly bright and upbeat song for Propagandhi, but of course the lyrics, once again, have a sinister edge, as they’re sarcastically patriotic, from the point of view of a slave praising their captor.

If there’s one thing Propagandhi’s good at, it’s making themselves seem like the smartest people in the room. If Bad Religion is the Noam Chomsky of punk rock, Propagandhi is Jean-Paul Sartre, always operating at a level of intelligence and grandeur so high that nobody else can begin to approach it. It always takes Propagandhi longer than other bands to put out new albums because the band moves like a glacier: slowly, but always with tremendous effect and influence. Victory Lap is just the latest in Propagandhi’s canon of stellar albums, and an important rallying cry for radicals in a terrifying political landscape.