‘You’ve got to laugh, because if you don’t you’ll kill yourself. Or somebody else’, so goes the promo notes and that rather bleak statement is further highlighted by both the album’s title, Defeated ,as well as the album art (designed by band member Adam Stone) of a rather resigned and dejected looking figure smoking, perhaps even chain-smoking, who knows?
Pound Land, for the uninitiated, are a Stockport based duo comprised of the aforementioned Adam Stone (Future Bomb and occasional Dead Sea Apes collaborator) on vocals/words and Nick Harris (Reverends of Destruction and ex-Dead Sea Apes) handling everything else – guitar, bass, programming and production. The project formed in 2020 around the time of the pandemic which, as challenging as that period was, nonetheless proved fruitful with respect to the formation of new musical projects, as well as the prolific amount of recorded output.
Both of these factors are certainly applicable to Pound Land seeing as Defeated is their third release to date that follows Can’t Be Arsed, which was released earlier this year, and 2020’s Self-Titled debut (since re-released with extra tracks as Pound Land Plus). Along the way they have also released the singles Bullshitters/Tripod, Clean Up/Tired And Brain Driver/Hypnagogia.
Opener Violence is PIL if they had have experimented with heavy drone ala Sunn O))) and Earth with some John Lydon sneers thrown in for good measure. This could easily have featured on any of PIL’s first three albums, especially the incredibly discordant brilliance of Flowers Of Romance. A violent (so to speak) assault on the senses and one hell of an opener. By contrast Carry On Screaming takes a more melodic route with a slight country twang (to my ears) that isn’t far removed from what Beck was doing early on in his career, or even Land Of The Lost era Wipers, what with its cool detached slacker vibe.
Lyrically thought provoking and musically captivating…
The Game Remains The Same (a play on Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same?) reminds one of Flipper’s brand of anti-hardcore sludge punk. There is the same sense of hopelessness and despair that that band were going for, hence what makes the number so appealing to me. Title track Defeated is akin to early Swans (Filth, Cop era), industrial blunt force trauma with Stone expounding on the current chaotic state of the world and striking similarities to Michael Gira’s early, more abrasive, and confrontational style of singing can be drawn here.
Drone, according to the promo notes, recounts the wearied observations of an electronic device as it traverses the globe. The track again reminds one of the Wipers but with grungier intonations ala very early (pre sell-out) Nirvana while Sick Day is rather delicious post-punk of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Pathogen is possibly the darkest and most harrowing sounding track on the album and considering what I’ve just listened to, it’s really saying something. A doomy backdrop provides the perfect accompaniment for Stone’s anguished howls, not quite Black Flag My War B-Side territory but not a million miles away either. Finally, Zones has a meditative krautrock/prog quality with a spoken word narrative approach that recalls a less manic Enablers. This makes for a suitably downbeat and melancholic conclusion to the album.
Defeated is anything but a feel-good get-up-and-go album, but then that was never the intention. It’s a cynical, jaded yet effective reflection of the times we are living in, what the multiple conflicts, rebellions and economic hardship currently enveloping us. Lyrically thought provoking and musically captivating, the album serves as an excellent listen and one that is well worthy of both your attention and time.
Scribed by: Reza Mills