Gang of Four will release a new EP, “Complicit” on April 20, 2018, their first new material in three years. The EP bookends a period since 2015’s critically acclaimed album What Happens Next, during which Gang of Four has been championed by artists as diverse as St Vincent, James Murphy, Pharrell Williams and Frank Ocean, the latter of which sampled the band on Blonde. With a new Gang of Four studio album due in Summer 2018, the band are trailing news of the EP with the first new track to emerge from the release, “Lucky” (stream here).
The “Complicit” EP captures producer and founding member Andy Gill advancing his writing partnership with frontman Gaoler, aided by the production nous of both Ben Hillier (Blur, Depeche Mode) and Ross Orton (M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys). The results of the newfound approach are borne out in spades on lead single “Lucky”. Instantly identifiable by Gill’s serrated guitar work, Gaolers’ ‘Gang of Four Everyman’ protagonist is by alternate turns both piteous and self-aggrandizing, freighted by a taut groove from Thomas McNiece and Tobias Humble’s rhythm section. “Lucky” keeps a characteristically analytical eye on the cut and thrust of the modern world, with the other firmly on the dance-floor – as evidenced by the track’s thumping remix from 10 O’Clock Chemical, which rounds out the “Complicit” EP.
Speaking about “Lucky”, Gill says: “This track itself is a product of chance. I’d been watching a serious debate on one of those financial news channels – six white men in suits arguing about the stock markets – and it set me thinking about how limited luck can be. A lot of trading is anyway now done by algorithms to try to eliminate the element of chance, but luck isn’t capable of fundamentally changing the system. Even if you believe market crashes are the result of bad luck rather than layer upon layer of human and machine error, the system shudders, restarts and goes on as before.”
On the EP’s second Gill/Hillier production collaboration, “Ivanka,” Gang of Four consider not only the poisonous invective of the White House, but the mutated ways in which news stories are pollinated in the modern world. Talking about the track – driven by a twisted, industrial bass-line and and weaving into the lyrics many quotes from mainly Ivanka but also her father – Gill says: “When we think of ‘the media’, everyone has lots of ideas about what we mean. It could be social media, where hundreds of memes criss-cross the world; informing, misinforming, beginning or reinforcing ideas that may last a lifetime and beyond. Ideas about Jews, Muslims, or, say, the world trade centre or perhaps, the criminality of certain American politicians. And then there is the receding traditional media with disappearing jobs like ‘journalists’ and ‘fact checkers’. That’s the media the Trump family despise.”
This increasing need to constantly distinguish fact from falsehood in the digital media age also proliferates “I’m A Liar.” Of the stutteringly thuggish Orton co-production, Gill says; “Time passes, history moves on, the story moves on and the story will be told. And the Gang of Four tell it. Personal history and the story of the world around us. The world and its people are more fragmented and disintegrated than ever, but powerful arguments rage across social media. Like many of the songs ‘I’m A Liar’ wonders how we are supposed to differentiate between truth and un-truth. And when we tell the truth it’s denied: because everyone knows everything is made up.”
Gang of Four came into being in 1977 and its first phase, incorporating several changes of lineup, lasted until 1983. Their debut album Entertainment! – voted in Pitchfork’s top ten albums of the 70’s and a ‘Record That Changed The World’ by MOJO, equally beloved by the likes of R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine – felt like a blast of ice-cold water, both in form and content. As guitarist, composer, producer and lyric writer, Gill was and remains the band’s driving force.