The Age

State Of Emergency

Author: Craig Mathieson

From the title onwards, the Living End’s fourth studio album celebrates resistance. Resistance to what or whom is unknown, because the trio’s songwriter, vocalist-guitarist Chris Cheney, is such an adroit craftsman that he can package the tenor of the time without giving it substance. Amid the gnarled soundscape of Wake Up he sings of “Suicidal education/ It got sold to our generation/ Wake up to the situation” – in essence just buzz words recast as battle cries. State Of Emergency is as much about Green Day making a record about the war in Iraq as it is about the war itself.

Backed by the first-rate rhythm section of Scott Owen and Andy Strachan, Cheney exudes commitment, whether it’s Long Live The Weekend, a rewrite of the Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind that’s punctuated by a stinging solo, or the accusatory Order Of The Day. But whether the trio is exhorting listeners to riot or party is unclear – it’s enough that they’re both about adrenaline and release because that’s the language the Living End truly speak. The sentiment is interchangeable, and that’s the key to the disc: as much as it is a rallying cry to stand up, it also requires surrender.

If you surrender to it, then State Of Emergency is a rock’n’roll rave-up few can match. From the yelping, insistent opening track ‘Till The End, it sweeps you along, with the blazing single What’s On Your Radio? and amped rockabilly of Black Cat to the highlight, One Step Behind, where the mood dips and rises. Looking beneath the surface reveals nothing, State Of Emergency is about the journey, not the destination, because the only destination it has in mind is back to track one.