This record is an interesting proposition, a 12” EP of new material paired with a flipside of peer favourites as voted, suggested and harassed for inclusion via a kind of social media free-for-all. It serves both as a new release and a watershed compilation, marking another line-up transition as the band enters its 10th year of existence.
The new material that comprises RESISTANCE IS NOT TERRORISM was tracked live in a studio setting. Although in theory any band stripped of bells and whistles can record this way, most tend not to, instead treating the studio environment like a sterile incubator in which to grow something that will hopefully sound organic…
…And a live studio recording can also be very telling about a band’s methodology – Where it sometimes prevails in capturing confidence and energy, it can also be indicative of delusion, thrift, zero concept of recorded legacy or appeasing your idiot mate who sort of knows his way around a 4-track. But anyone who has seen The Lee Harveys in the previous 12 months will be more than aware that the success of these recordings is simply performance fitness.
To this end, a declaration of modus operandi takes pride of place “Spiral Scratch” style on the record sleeve, listing which tracks were first takes and which had guitar overdubs, as if some manner of punk audit were looming over the band.
Straight out of the gate, WORDS ARE WEAPONS is about as incendiary as The Lee Harveys have ever been. Where so much of the band’s output in the past has retained melodic boundaries, this has an incensed growl to it. Given the subject matter, this is most likely borne out of necessity. Without hexing the rest of what’s here in the first 2 minutes of playing time, it’s easily the highlight of the new material.
Next is NEW YORK – There have been very many punk songs written about the city – fictive and literal – fuelled by immigration, hope, drugs, a deep rooted history of punk, orange buffoons in golden towers – and although a vivacious stomper, it’s unclear whether it intends anything other than adding to that particular songbook… maybe that’s all it needs to be?
As is evident from the title and packaging, various parts here constitute a greater statement on continued atrocities in Palestine. BLOODY WAR is definitely a component of this but retains a lyrical ambiguity and could be a more universal critique. The super catchy ONE WAY IN on the other hand is a direct political hit, rapidly followed up by SONIC BOOM with its vocal mantras, pile-driving wall of guitars and economy of duration, fulfilling its purpose in 1:57 minutes.
Rounding everything up with a cautionary take, NEON ANGEL inhabits the same space as NEW YORK – a certain vintage of punk rock that pulls dynamics and inconclusive lyrics together to serve the song rather than provide answers.
If you bought the CD version of this then that’s where it ends – 12:45 minutes of lean and addictive punk energy… However, the very limited coloured vinyl LP special edition goes beyond this with the aforementioned audience collated greatest hits (of sorts) on the b-side. Without going into a track by track breakdown, if you’ve seen The Lee Harveys more than once, chances are that you will instantly recognise the infectious SHE’S INSIDE, BABYLON, STILL ANGRY and five other durable nuggets from two of their three studio albums 2013-2016.
RESISTANCE IS NOT TERRORISM is wrapped up in sensory discomfort – A knowingly lurid collision of process cyan and magenta indicating that you’re not holding another pretty punk product in your hands… although to offset the nausea of harsh industrial colour, the fold-out visual centerpiece is knitted maquettes of the band, immortalised in wool for posterity!!!
One detail that seems neglected – lyrics – If words are weapons then there’s a reasonable argument that they should be included on the packaging – It’s not for lack of space.
Without consistency across the band’s catalogue, this release might have shared the listening experience of those bootlegs by old punk bands that only ever recorded 3 singles, necessitating that the rest be filled out by demos and live tracks that were “lost” for a reason. But the beauty of everything here (b-side included) is that it runs like a live set – demonstrating the quality of recent material against proven earworms.
The Lee Harveys have a traceable musical genealogy right back to the late 70s – unsurprisingly it’s a rich source for the band. This is a classic sound that siphons the Good Vibrations stable, and where melody meets openly political content, it demonstrates the sort of conviction as wielded by the Newtown Neurotics.
Resolute in never straying far from their roots, The Lee Harveys are decisively punk rock as if crasstafarianism, crossover and crust never happened.