I wouldn’t blame you if you had to double take at that title, friends. When have I ever given you the impression that anything other than the boom-bap has a place in my heart? But it was not always that way friends.
To this day, there are only two albums I have ever purchased essentially “sound unheard.” I just bought them because I read a good review in a magazine or heard something about them.
- DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…
- Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come.
And both of those albums have never fully left my rotation in the fifteen-plus years I’ve owned them. Given the band’s unwavering…uh, refusal to reunite, I’d resolved myself to the fact that Refused were just one of those acts I’d have to mis out on and enjoy their music in retrospect.
However, as I continue to learn, friends, age changes a man, and the lads in Refused reached a point in their lives when maybe, perhaps, it was time to acknowledge that there continue to be thousands of people who adore and are inspired by that last album, and to just suck it up and accept that people love them and would kill to see them play live again. As they said in the official statement announcing the reunion:
We never did “The shape of punk to come” justice back when it came out, too tangled up in petty internal bickering to really focus on the job. And suddenly there’s this possibility to do it like it was intended. We wanna do it over, do it right. For the people who’ve kept the music alive through the years, but also for our own sakes.
We feel that you deserve it and we hope the feeling is mutual. [via]
So there was never any doubt that I was going to be at one of their two dates here in Toronto. The show itself was phenomenal, the band was whipcrack tight and played all of the songs from TSOPTC that I would have wanted to hear, and some I never thought I would [Tannhauer/Derive as a show closer? Really?! Amazing] as well as earlier tracks that I admit I didn’t know but sounded awesome. For me, my love of Refused starts and ends with that last album.
But I can still feel your confusion, friends. How does a Swedish punk band work its way into the heart of a lifelong, dyed in the wool hip-hop fan? Because The Shape of Punk to Come is a deliberate attempt to disseminate revolutionary ideas while putting back into the music all the things that decades of self-seriousness and mainstream co-opting took out of it: Fun. Sex. Danceability. I knew it the first time I heard album opener ‘Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull‘ and heard frontman Dennis Lyxzen yelp, ‘One mooore time, OW!‘ like the Godfather of Soul calling to the band for hits. The Shape of Punk to Come is, without question, the blackest punk record ever made. If I ever doubted it, watching Lyxzen mash-potato his way across the stage, swing his microphone and do the old ‘Mic Stand Kick‘ move as his band bludgeoned the crowd with six-stringed ferocity, of course this would be one of my favourite albums. The best moment I had during that entire show, one of those ‘this is something I will need to cross of my life list’ moments was being able to shout Woooo! during ‘New Noise.’ Rare and wonderful indeed is the punk song that demands that of you.
Check out a clip of the band ripping apart “Refused Are Fuckin’ Dead” below. Forgive the glass wall that cuts through the shot but well, Daddy doesn’t do general admission anymore.