Explicitly political music, whether it's punk, rap, or any other style, often fails to engage listeners for one simple reason...it's not much fun. Who wants to be shouted at, preached to, or hectored without the benefit of tunes? What's the point of fighting the power if it isn't at least a little bit fun? There has to be a rush, a thrill to politics, or else it's just empty words and gestures. Hard Left know this and their debut album, We Are Hard Left, is a breathless rush of power chords, rough-and-ready vocals, and songs made for waving fists, shouting slogans, and basically tearing things up. Inspired by bands like the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, and the very underrated Dils, Hard Left make sure to add melody to their anger, hooks to their hopes, and fun to their fight. The album fairly jumps out of the speakers, knocking over cans of lager and getting feet stomping up and down instantly. It's a brawling charge of intensely powerful guitars (provided by Tim of Lunchbox) and throat-shreddingly gruff vocals (by Mike of Black Tambourine) battened down by a rock-solid rhythm section (bass and drums by Donna of Lunchbox and Stewart of Boyracer, respectively), with song after song pummeling the ears and inspiring some serious emotions for those with (far) left-leaning inclinations. Don't tell the band this, but even if you don't know the difference between Ken Livingstone and Dr. David Livingstone, the album is still a bunch of fun. Credit that to the band's shared knowledge of how to make a great-sounding, exciting album; they certainly have made a lot of them. And even though Hard Left seem like a complete left turn for everyone involved, We Are Hard Left shares all the finely crafted songs, inventive arranging, and emotional investment that is built into everything they've made in the past. Conversely, even if one knows nothing of the bandmembers' storied past, it's pretty easy to get swept up in the rush of the songs and the sound, because in 2015 punk doesn't get much more punk -- or much better -- than this.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra