The Enemy - 'This Song'
In 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.