Reviews Flobots Survival Story


Survival Story

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours. - César Estrada Chávez

Matter relates to all things. Matter is defined as "something that occupies space." In relation to music, this can surely describe the majority of artists that are force fed to us whether we like it or not - like so much swill in the trough (are you listening Ke$ha?). But matter can also be defined as "something of consequence; important or significant." The latter can most certainly apply to Flobots, whose new album Survival Story is the latest manifesto from Denver's proud sons and daughter. A rallying cry against apathy, Survival Story provides the perfect backdrop - a clear, concise soundtrack - for an unsure nation struggling to find it's footing once again. Times have certainly changed since the band's 2007 debut Fight With Tools, a strong album that managed to hold the mirror up to our crumbling visage without ever losing sight of the most important tool of all - hope.

Almost three years later the band once again reminds us that all is not lost. Survival Story is the key to a map we've been struggling to decipher for quite some time now. First single "White Flag Warrior" leads the charge into the fray with a refrain of "We'd rather make our children martyrs than murderers...this is love, not treason" with the help of Rise Against's Tim McIlrath - himself no stranger to the anti-war sentiment. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The album turns out to be a virtually seamless hybrid of hip-hop and rock (but for god's sake don't cheapen it by calling it rap-rock). The band avoids any possible accusations of a sophomore slump by showing a notable progression in all ways possible without losing one iota of what made them so distinct on their debut. With the exception of two songs, Survival Story is produced by Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson). Caldato's production suits the band's aesthetic just fine, but the two self-produced tracks ("White Flag Warrior" and "Infatuation") sound huge and provide proof that DIY can still be the way to go. There's a passion on this album that you just don't hear nowadays and that passion comes through in each word uttered, the arco of the viola, and each crack of the snare. There's twelve songs in all - each one with it's own unique identity and perspective, each song a showcase for the no-small talent of the artists involved.

MC's Stephen Brackett (a.k.a. Brer Rabbitt) and Jamie Laurie (Jonny 5) once again take turns on vocal duties, slamming it out with tracks like "Cracks in the Surface" and "Whip$ and Chain$." Brackett shows a much softer side to great effect on album closer "Panacea for the Poison." But that's not to say these two are keeping the mic totally to themselves. Violist Mackenzie Roberts' warm voice is showcased on "Good Soldier" and "Defend Atlantis," which, in an album full of highlights, are both standouts, the latter having an epic quality to it both lyrically and musically.

But what is hip-hop or rock without a solid rhythm section? Bassist Jesse Walker and drummer Kenny Ortiz know the answer to that question, and they answer it with every song. Never so evident than on "By the Time You Get This Message...", a monster of a track that builds with all the tension of an argument that leaves no parties unscathed. And if "By the Time You Get This Message..." is the argument, then "Infatuation" is the make-up sex. Another surging crescendo of a track featuring some outstanding guitar work from Andy Guerrero and guest vocals from Matt Morris. But when all else is said and done, let's be honest, Flobots hasn't ever been about the argument, they'll always be about the dialogue.

9.0 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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9.0 / 10

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