Release Date: Mar 29, 2019
Record label: Bloodshot
Of all the punk rock bands who appeared in the U.K. in the wake of the Sex Pistols, the Mekons are one of the few who are not only still a going concern, but have managed to maintain their peerless creative principles and individuality along the way. However, while the Mekons have never stopped being punk in their intelligent, contrarian view of the world, they've barely sounded like a rock band in the 2010s, embracing a folkie austerity on 2011's Ancient & Modern and 2015's Jura, and generating a stripped-down and manipulated experimental sound on 2017's Existentialism.
Photo by Ricky Malpas "Lawrence of California," the first song on the Mekons' Deserted, commences with 20 seconds of amp distortion that slowly fades in, wrenching and twisting, until the full band kicks up a fierce ruckus. There are big guitar chords, smashing cymbals, Susie Honeyman's dramatic violin, and then much of the band in full-throated chorus: "Lawrence of California! / Get out of the van and disappear! / Hello teeth flash yellow / Over your shoulder as the dusty walls move in!" The lyrics are more suggestive than illuminating, implying recrimination and threat, a corrupt and angry scene somewhere in the American desert southwest. But there's nothing tentative about the sound.