Gong Fei - Fifty-Fifty in Nineteen-Forty (Cover Artwork)

Gong Fei

Fifty-Fifty in Nineteen-Forty (2009)


Humans are creatures of habit; comforted by the routine, consoled by the familiar. This might go some way to explaining why, like every aspect of human culture, the overwhelming majority of individuals -- both the creators and 'consumers' of that culture -- are content to spew out and then re-eat the same meaningless, generic, sterilized, pre-packaged feces day in, day out.

Yet, like the troupe of sunglasses-wearing revolutionaries in the film They Live, there are many of us who choose to seek out a deeper meaning, a greater substance in our lives than that which simply cannot be provided by a soulless Nickelback song or a meaningless, predictable set of crooning indie pop ballads regurgitated by whatever set of media-trained, image-made, fame-obsessed music industry puppets are in vogue this week.

Indeed, there will always be some form of resistance to the bland -- cultural or otherwise -- and if you have found yourself clambering to find some substance among the void, you need not look any further. Open your ears and allow them to embrace the sounds of Gong Fei, who are heroically swinging a large wrecking ball towards the reinforced concrete foundations of the banal corporate rock establishment with their self-released debut, Fifty-Fifty in Nineteen-Forty.

The Scottish trio here display an unsettled, agitated desire to move forward, their sound defined not by the past or even the present, but the future. Certainly, there are elements of the lo-fi melodic sensibilities of early Pavement and the jerky danceability of the Rapture, mixed with the power, drive and unconventional (often largely instrumental) song structures of Shellac; there is even a certain, somewhat discreet whiff of Fugazi as is the sine qua non of any band that brushes shoulders -- no matter how lightly -- with the genre known as 'post-punk,' but despite these faint points of reference, Gong Fei are their own entity -- arriving like a welcome blast of fresh air amidst the polluted core of a clogged-up, smog-ridden city.

The nine-track CD, clocking in at just over 28 minutes, like that blast of fresh air, will leave you gasping for more. Tracks like "Mason-Dixon," "Loose Lips Sink Ships" and "What We Gonna Do If We Don't Die Young" demonstrate an understated ingenuity that exudes blazing significance. The songs command your attention; grand blasts of sound that speak for themselves. So stop clambering; it's time to shut up and listen.