Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

RefusedReleased in 1998, The Shape Of Punk To Come has now become recognised as a seminal punk album. Before punk became a term more closely associated with Blink 182 and Green Day (for the second time), there was a brief spurt that started with the death of Refused and the dead of At The Drive In. These were two bands that that fiercely blazed a trail for intelligent punk music, far removed from the MTV-approved drivel that passed for punk. Both bands split after recording their definitive albums; ATDI split after One Armed Scissors, the album that saw them became over-ground stars for the first time (in the process scaring the shit out of Robbie Williams on Later… With Jools Holland in one of my favourite TV moments). Refused split after starting a seemingly soul-sapping tour of the US. Chronicled on the retrospective documentary, Refused Are Fucking Dead, the band recorded their last album The Shape Of Punk To Come as a last gasp.

Showing a wilful disregard for punk’s musical conservatory failing, Refused incorporated almost every style of music into this album. Jazz, electronics,post-punk were all melded into a furious 12 songs. Shifting time signatures and a jazz-bass solo in “Deadly Rhythm” is just the tip of the iceberg. The title track is more conventional, but still sounds tight and focussed with a snarling guitar line. The intro guitar line on the brilliant “New Noise” almost sounds like the intro to Knight Rider, but it explodes at the start of the verse after some electronic drums.

At the end, an acoustic instrumental track “The Apollo Program Was A Hoax” sounds like a last, triumphant breath. Like the Jam, Refused had said what they wanted to say and then went away. Considering most of these tracks are all over 4 minutes, and and of them is over 8 minutes, it’d be tempting to see The Shape Of Punk To Come as a bloated, last gasp from a desperate band. This couldn’t be further from the truth; this is vital and vibrant music made with a genuine interest to push the envelope. Refused will be missed, but not forgotten.

Refused – New Noise:

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