Review: Pound Land ‘Mugged’

It seems like only five minutes have elapsed when I reviewed Defeated back in 2022, since then the band have been prolific putting out The Game Remains The Same/Vape Squad single, the Liar/Macclesfield single, the Crackhouse/Semi-Detached single, the Live At Dubrek Studios Derby session, the Singles Club compilation and finally last year’s critically acclaimed Violence.

Pound Land 'Mugged' Artwork
Pound Land ‘Mugged’ Artwork

Mugged, their seventh album, enjoys the distinction of being the first to be fully recorded in a studio (Tremolo Studios in Stoke-on-Trent) with Pound Land‘s line-up consisting of core members Nick Harris and Adam Stone with, for the first time, musicians who toured with the duo last year, so, Rich Lamell – bass, Steve Taylor – drums and Jo Stone on saxophone. Additionally, Jase Kester of Omnibadger and Omnibael helps out with electronics.

Living In Pound Land presents the type of dystopian nightmare you’d only read about in books such as 1984 and Brave New World. Howled vocals and free jazz sax squeals are heavily featured, recalling the atonal goodness of legendary outfits such as The Fall and the overlooked No Trend. Uncompromising and to be honest, I wouldn’t have expected anything less. A superb opener.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, the band aren’t exactly fans of the Conservative Party and this is further highlighted by Spawn Of Thatcher. Lyrics are spat out with some degree of venom while the music’s rumbling nasty psych punk reminds one of bands such as Radar Men From the Moon on their (to date) most recent album The Bestial Light and Manchester’s GNOD, making for what is an essential listen.

Flies feels like it belongs in the 1980s anarcho-punk underground which emerged from genre pioneers and Crass, Flux Of Pink Indians and Zounds are names that spring to mind when listening to this. There’s an irresistible lo-fi, don’t give a flying fuck, attitude that makes PIL at their discordant best sound relatively polished and tame by comparison.

an irresistible lo-fi, don’t give a flying fuck, attitude…

When I heard Power To The People I couldn’t help but think of Robert Lindsay’s ridiculous character in Citizen Smith, however, unlike part-time revolutionary Wolfie, there’s an undeniable integrity and refreshing lack of naivety here, which one can only admire whatever your political inclinations. Musically, a sprawling beast at well over nine minutes it recalls the Melvins at their droney best, laden with a militaristic industrial feel that provides the ideal soundtrack for the proletariat to storm the barricades. Fantastic listening.

Speaking of industrial (albeit more overt here), Pistol Shrimp appears to embrace the same wonderful apocalyptic visions of Killing Joke, the darkness is all consuming and overwhelming yet utterly satisfying. Without doubt my favourite track on the record. Broken In Two tips its hat to Black Flag with both its title and overall vibe reminiscent of a younger, more cynical Henry Rollins and as a Black Flag fanatic, this was never going to disappoint.

The longest track on the album at nearly ten minutes, Shish Doner Mix Apocalypse, lives up to its eccentric title and comes from similar musical territory as artists such as John Cooper Clarke, Sleaford Mods and a more political less hedonistic Shaun Ryder. It’s a number that I found myself enjoying despite not being a fan of the aforementioned artists. Pound Land aren’t the funkiest of bands, however, the steady grooves on Paralyser make it the earworm to end all earworms. Add to it sludgy Celtic Frost style riffing and you have all the ingredients for the ideal concluding track.

Mugged is the sound of a band experimenting with and broadening their sound without losing the essence of who they are. Essential listening as per.

Label: Cruel Nature Records
Band Links: Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills