Album Review: Stiff Little Fingers – “No Going Back”
To say this is the new album from Stiff Little Fingers is perhaps stretching the truth, given that it came out via a Pledgemusic release back in the spring, and this is the commercial release six months later. But then, for a band whose career spans the best part of 40 years, and who last released new material in 2003, I guess six months old still counts as new.
Starting out in Belfast in 1977, SLF quickly earned themselves a reputation as the acerbic punk voice of disaffected youth during North Ireland’s troubles, but what of the Fingers of today? Are they fingers knotty and scarred by hard work, or have they become soft and sausage-like through inactivity?
Well, on the evidence of this and the attendant touring schedule (one tour for the Pledge release, and another for this release) they’ve certainly not been inactive lately. As they’re grown over the years, SLF have become more of a rock band than a 77 punk band (although it would be suicide to ditch the punk tag and they know it), and this record very much reflects that.
Starting out with the faced paced anger of Liar’s Club, a tirade against the Bush-Blair wars, and also taking in the recent banking crisis in Full Steam Backwards, this record shows the band’s signature anger and political awareness is still there, albeit in a more melodic setting. These rub shoulders happily with more personal moments like My Dark Places, the ska-influence Don’t Mind Me, and a nod to traditional Irish music on the flute-led number Guilty As Sin, helping keep this record from straying too far into the predictable.
This is probably not a record that is going to storm the youth and bring Stiff Little Fingers a legion of new fans, more it is the sound of a band getting a bit older with dignity. Nevertheless though, it’s an engaging and worthwhile listen, and a sign there’s plenty of life in this lot yet.