The Flobots continue their infiltration to be the conscience of the national consciousness, with a new album and matching tour. Survival Story continues their progressive political message, with songs like White Flag Warrior and Superhero, which make their point without getting shrill or boring. In fact, the human face they put on their songs probably opens a few minds. In a world of political polarization, it's nice to feel like you could have a conversation even if you disagree about a particular issue.
Musically, the Flobots vary from song to song, hitting a hard rock drive then a straighter hip-hop feel. The flow works because their vocal delivery and instrumentation stay consistently interesting.
My favorite track is one I remember from their December show, Good Soldier. It starts with the chorus which features some beautiful harmonies. This loose, comforting chorus balances the tension built in the verses, which paint a powerful image of individual struggle to make sense of the world. Mackenzie Roberts' viola work is a key element, weaving around the chorus and accenting the verses.
Another great track that nails the personal perspective is By the Time You Get This Message. It's a bass heavy driving tune that builds intensity over the course of five and a half minutes. When the guitars kick in with a jarring grind, it's like a splash of hot, bitter coffee. The lyrical/thematic balance is so appealing: each half presents the individual effort and experience of what it took to make their meeting. It's cinematic in scope, where neither subject really knows if they'll meet or how they'll be received.
So, Survival Story itself balances the political with the personal, satisfying on both counts. This is love, this is not treason. Well, yes...it's also good listening. This time, I'll suggest a good Scottish ale, like Oskar Blues' Old Chub. Rich, strong, and interesting.