[original post: 02.09.10, 14:06:42]
"The world is an island now. The water level is rising. Who will turn the tide?"
That's a great question, and from the looks of it, it's one that Jonny 5 and his Flobots bandmates intend to answer emphatically on their upcoming full-length, Survival Story, the sophomore follow-up to 2008's Fight With Tools, produced by Mario Caldato Jr. and due out on Tuesday, March 16.
At least that's what we've gleened from reading the album description that appears on Amazon -- which we're presuming was culled from a new bio prepared in advance of the album's impending release.
"When we last left Flobots, there was a war going on for your mind. Apathy, fear, and militarism reigned. Many people failed to understand their own power. Flobots responded by waking people up, bringing them together, and telling them they were not alone. They used broad-brush strokes to paint giant murals supporting peace, hope, and change. On the charts and at the ballot box, these slogans had an effect. The mood of the populace shifted. Now, those murals have begun to crack and fade. People are taking a closer look at what's behind the slogans, and seeking to come to terms with what they find. Exhaustion. Hypocrisy. Ego. Frustration. Quagmire. Wars with no exit strategy. Lifestyles that are non-sustainable. American flag bandanas made in China."
Ah, referencing the current sociopolitical climate and using it as a metaphor for the band's imminent foray back into the public consciousness. Smart. Very smart. Flobots are a politically-driven band, after all, lest we forget. And the subtle dig at itself with that American flag bandana remark? Brilliant. But wait, there's more to this manifesto:
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"Everywhere, we are encountering limits. Enter the Flobots once more. The situation is more complicated now. The populace is cautious and jaded. The old slogans will not suffice. What is needed is new story. Survival Story is a vision of hope for a world facing its limits. While others revel in the dystopian, the Flobots remain committed to their ability to rise together. Navigating the coming years will require new tools. It will require narratives that cause us to reexamine our priorities, redefine wealth, and re-inspire ourselves. It will require that we come together in the face of death and write the story of our own survival. Paying it back, paying it forward."
So this is how you overcome the sophomore slump, eh?
As a device, the metaphor speaks directly to the collective disillusionment of the once optimistic masses, whose outlook is beginning to sour because the much ballyhooed change so touted for the past two years hasn't come fast enough.
At the same time, the carefully crafted words reinforce the ideals of Flobots -- who they are, what they stood (and continue to stand for) -- while reminding fans that group has a far bigger agenda than just having a hit single on the radio. And always has.
Oh and then there's that whole bit about the need for new tools (get it?), redefining wealth (the measure of success, perhaps?) and re-inspiring themselves (even tireless do-gooders need to go back to the well every now and then, right?). Check and mate.
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Not so fast.
If nothing else, the act is right about one thing: The population is cautious and jaded -- and not just when it comes to politics. All too often in music these days, yesterday's darlings are today's also rans. The hoi polloi has a notoriously short attention span and an even shorter memory, which makes recapturing their attention extremely challenging.
To that end, if Flobots hold out any hope for this Story to resonate and to remain relevant, they better have another "Handlebars" up their sleeve. We haven't heard the record yet, so we can't speak to that quite yet. We've have, however, heard bits of the first single, "White Flag Warriors," featuring Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, and let's just say, the group has certainly implemented some new tools.