Saturday, 8 October 2016

Crass "Penis Envy" (1981)


Crass's third record is a loud, bold statement. One that transcends the ideological rebellion from their first two records into art as the groups sound shift gears. Firstly frontman Steve Ignorant is absent as Eve Libertine takes lead vocal and second the instrumentals steer to an artsy form of Post-Punk not far aesthetically from their former sound but with an expansive ear for atmosphere and mood. Its an evolution fit for purpose as the lyrics take a bold feminist stance making mockery of gender inherited values and the marital tradition. The title marks the records intention and its artwork further extends the subjects poked at in its playtime.

"Penis Envy" is a vehicle for thought, its instrumentals don't swoon with melodies or take the forefront of your attention. They mostly balance the atmosphere to contrast the moods in opposing sides of the topics being discussed. Its simply not possible to enjoy without being engaged in the subject matter and no track does it better than "Systematic Death. Its the song that encompasses everything daring about challenging conformity and does it with a spike of audacity. The repetitive "System system system" chants between commenting on the social constructs of gender based expectation. Lines like "Fuck her mind so they can fuck her silly" makes remarkable statements that might be hard to wrap your head around depending on how you perceive how individuals are formed within society.

Through the record there are many resolute statements to question your resolve, especially a mockery of dependency on men in society. Much of which dives deeper into what "Systemic Death" outlines. Musically a couple of memorable melodies extrude from the baselines and there are some great experimental tracks. "Berkertex Bribe" has a stunning break out moment where the intensity on all instruments kicks up a notch as subtle wedding bells ring out in the back drop. The album is seen out with "Our Wedding", an almost eerie track poking fun at post-marital expectations in a subversive way. Its a much artier experience than previous records but in true crass style it is the food for thought that becomes the focal point of a brilliant record and a very bold statement for an 80s society to digest.

Favorite Tracks: Systematic Death, What The Fuck
Rating: 8/10

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