Reviews The (International) Noise Conspiracy The Cross of My Calling

The (International) Noise Conspiracy

The Cross of My Calling

It must be rough to be Dennis Lyxzén. Ten years ago, he was a part of the loftily-titled but nonetheless astounding album The Shape of Punk to Come with his band Refused. The bar was set very high, and once The (International) Noise Conspiracy was unveiled, we all realized that the bar would not be met. The (International) Noise Conspiracy has at least been a punchy, effective version of a 60’s mod garage group, complete with vague anti-capitalism sentiments and political slogans. But ever since they signed with American Recordings and started allowing Rick Rubin to produce their stuff, the bar set by Refused is miles above them, never to be touched again.

The Cross of My Calling is nicely hyped by its press release, calling it a “bunker buster of compassion and activism aimed straight for your heart and brain.” If this album is really aimed for those places, they missed badly, as there is next to nothing on here that will move you in the slightest. Beginning with “Intro,” a directionless jam that should be skipped immediately, proceedings actually begin with “The Assassination of Myself,” a mid-tempo rock song with standard chord structures and unimpressive lyrics. I wish I could find something more interesting to say about it, but there isn’t much to say about a song with no feeling or energy, except that it’s vacuously catchy. That can be said about much of this material, in that it might stick in your head, but in that maddening way a Jonas Brothers song gets into you. What’s sad is that songs like “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Washington Bullets” are so lightweight and soft-hitting and unimpressive that you could imagine the Jonas Brothers doing them, but doing them better.

Occasionally, The (International) Noise Conspiracy gets it right and brings back the elements that made them formerly great, like in the near-epic “Child of God” with its nifty organ-drenched midsection and intense performance. Traces of Funkadelic can be heard in the songwriting, especially in the dirty breakdowns of “I Am the Dynamite” that for once actually inspire you to move. Guitarist Lars Strömberg really does have chops that he gets to showcase at times, which makes it even more frustrating when he’s dulling our senses with a waste of time like “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” How Rick Rubin, a man who inspired Johnny Cash to renew his artistic vision, allows this kind of travesty to happen is beyond me.

Sitting through the entirety of The Cross of My Calling is quite a chore, one that will cause the average listener to lose attention at least twenty times, since there is just no hook to it. Four Swedish guys got together and created a passable rock album. That’s it. The press release says that it all has over-arching political themes, but if they even exist, they’re buried under the weight of crushing boredom. If capitalism is deadens the human spirit, The (International) Noise Conspiracy should consider the effects of their own music, and try to tell us how they’re any different.

4.7 / 10Elliot
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4.7 / 10

4.7 / 10

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