Gang Of Four: What Happens Next

Andy Gill shoulders the burden sans the band mates, but is it all to much for him?

- I don’t really know what to think about What Happens Next, newest album from post-punk darlings Gang of Four, now a solo project of guitarist Andy Gill. It starts out reasonably enough, with the angular instrumental interplay of the band’s older work transformed into minimalist synth rock in the opening track Where the Nightingale Sings, but by the start of Broken Talk, it begins to change into something else: a guitar and synth sound strongly reminiscent of KMFDM’s 1995 album Nihil, without the speed or edge of the original.

I like the way it sounds, but it doesn’t really hold a candle to any of the band’s older work, or the ground-breaking music of the original run of electro-industrial artists. In fact, this is edging on my criticism of the album as a whole. It feels like more of an evolution of Andy Gill’s personal creative expression, rather than anything attached to the history of pop music, or the project Gang of Four. It wouldn’t be a problem coming from a solo artist, but Gang of Four were always more than simply Andy Gill. His guitar work offers the album a connection to the past, but it isn’t strong enough here to attach the album to their legacy, and is even downplayed in a lot of cases; part of a wider shift towards the more electronic sound that characterizes this release.

It makes it a difficult album to really recommend, though there are a few rewarding moments. Dead Souls and Isle of Dogs transcend their roots in punk and electronic rock to come to an interesting convergence of the two, while Dying Rays features beautiful melodic vocals over soft piano and delicately layered electronic instruments in a mournful ballad on regrets and age. It’s a good album, but it’s not a great album, and it doesn’t really sound like Gang of Four. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing that stands out about it enough for me to recommend it either. It is, sadly, a forgettable experience. Not what I expected from the album or the band.

- Matthew Stoff.

Album Details

Album Title: What Happens Next
Artist: Gang Of Four
Record Label: (Metropolis / Shock)