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The Enemy - 'This Song'

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:08 UK time, Saturday, 15 March 2008

The EnemyIn this review I aim to examine the work 'This Song' by the Enemy, using a Marxist critique and my own poor attempts at witticisms. The musical content of this offering is, it must be noted, not its most extraordinary point, resting largely on a U2-influenced Coldplay-scape, spiced up with strong regional accents, either to capitalise on the current vogue for the appearance of grittiness, or maybe due to a certain inherent grittiness, if we are not to be entirely cynical about the endeavour which, I must admit, it is somewhat difficult.

Having dispensed with the music then, it falls to the lyrics to create some sense of uniqueness and of genuinely bringing something new to the metaphorical table. It has been said that the Enemy are an exciting new group, talking directly to the dispossessed young people of Britain today. Not certain that twenty-one counts as a 'young person' anymore and owning my own bread bin, I cannot definitively place myself within this demographic, especially since I have never felt directly spoken to by the Enemy unless you count a slightly threatening comment to my last critique of their work from someone called 'Tom,' who I suppose could have been the one in the band.

Anyway, the premise of the song is that the young people of today have, partly by their own efforts, become disenfranchised from an uncaring society. By teenage pregnancies, binge drinking and not listening to their elders, the current young person is broken and destroyed. The idea appears to be that these problems are unique to the current environs, implied by the line "will things ever be the same?" which harks back to a time when presumably these problems did not exist.

Writing in 1842, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels identified a name for this sort of immutable power relationship, calling it 'class struggle'. 'Class', of course, does not have to be about whether you are what they would have called a member of the 'bourgeoisie' or a 'proletarian' but can generally imply anything involving a social grouping, especially with regards to one's musical tastes and allegiances, as discussed by Frank Kogan here and it is merely the division between 'oppressor' and 'oppressed' which creates the sense of conflict.

Unfortunately, by assuming that that teenagers did not have babies, children did not take drugs and no one drank binge in earlier generational periods, the Enemy have inadvertantly created a rather naive narrative. The middle eight is particularly damning, because it assumes there must be reasonable evidence of a better setup within living memory. Which is not at all true, when you really think about it.

The issue, essentially, is that this song is speaking directly to no one in particular, other than possibly people who simply don't have any idea about anything ever. Yes, being a young person sucks, it always has and probably always will, at least no one's being stuffed down chimneys anymore. The naivete of the song would be tolerable, however, if it were not also for its apparent nihilism; giving up is only permissable when one's reason is not clouded by nostalgia for a utopian age which never existed.

That and if I hear anything else ripping off 'With Or Without You' for some attempted social commentary this year, I will probably rip my own ears off.

Two starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: March 17th

(Hazel Robinson)


  1. At 12:02 PM on 16 Mar 2008, Kat wrote:

    Not entirely sure where you were trying to go with the marxist rambling. To be honest, I think the review would have been just as good if not better without it..

    Song sucks anyway.

  2. At 12:33 PM on 16 Mar 2008, Hazel R wrote:

    In all honesty, this is what happens when you try to review whilst writing a dissertation. I wanted it to be a faux-essay style like 1066 or something but retrospectively I think the jokes are too subtle to possibly work.

  3. At 04:55 PM on 16 Mar 2008, Kat wrote:

    Possibly, especially considering the audience C.B. is aimed at :P The bread bin line was shiny though, I liked that.

    Good luck with your dissertation

  4. At 04:56 PM on 16 Mar 2008, katstevens wrote:

    You should have kept in the bit about songs like this perpetuating the problem!

  5. At 11:06 PM on 16 Mar 2008, Kat wrote:

    Dude, where's my comment? :P

  6. At 06:17 PM on 17 Mar 2008, Nicole wrote:

    It sounds nowt like Coldplay and what's Marxism and Nihilism to do with it. Lazy useless comparisons from the Connor McNicholas school of journalism. Do you write for Guardian you middle-class git!

  7. At 01:20 PM on 18 Mar 2008, Hazel R wrote:

    No I do not write for the Guardian, the point is that The Enemy think they do.

  8. At 07:03 PM on 18 Mar 2008, Ray Jones wrote:

    Terrible song, not great from The Enemy it has to be said.

    Looks like they're heading the same way as awful band The Twang.

    There's a better midlands band breaking through that puts these both to shame.

    Check out The Lines reviewed on the 'back of the sofa section'

  9. At 05:31 PM on 19 Mar 2008, Kat wrote:

    What's wrong with the Guardian anyway? :P

  10. At 12:32 AM on 24 Mar 2008, ben jackson wrote:

    hazel. i like the way you write but i dont think you are a music journalist and i cannot sense one ounce of love for music in the way you write. thats just my opinion on how you approached this review.
    re ray jones' comment- the enemy are at number 15 in the album charts this week after their album has been out for 21 weeks. any comparisions to the the twang are lazy.

  11. At 11:57 PM on 26 Mar 2008, shaun wrote:

    i think the enemy are a great band and i find all of there songs inspirational to spur me on to make something of my life. Listen to a song of theres i.e this one or We'll live and die in these towns always pushes me on to achieve i hope to see more good things from them for years to come! :)



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