Anti Flag - The Bright Lights Of America

Lefty political Pittsburgh punks Anti Flag are back with a very big sounding record, The Bright Lights Of America. For those that have just tuned into this band you may assume that they’re fairly new, but in fact Anti Flag has been around for years. They began life as an underground leftist fast paced punk band with no major labels in sight, they’re still pretty much the same when it comes to musical style along with the politics and the organisations they stand for, but something has changed. Anti Flag got a deal on a major label and in my opinion this has ruined them.

Bright Lights is actually Anti Flag’s second release on a major label, following their debut with For Blood And Empire and as I mentioned previously it’s big sounding, with killer hooks, catchy choruses and a great political message, largely to do with their distaste of the governing body in America. There is a but though, I’m not naïve enough to say they’ve sold out, I understand from a bands point of view that if they want to make music full time and support their families a major label is probably the only way to go. What I am trying to say is that because they’ve got the backing, the right amount of money and the time to make a big sounding record, it doesn’t mean they have to.

The problem is that this record just sounds far too polished. It’s got a bloody choir on it for goodness sake, far from the fast paced energy of the old Anti Flag. I think their old rawness and lack of production value only added to their cause, to their rough edginess that made you take notice. As for this album, the lyrics come out clichéd because they’re sung over the top of three chord wonders, roughly translated to uninspired catchy choruses. It’s just very sing-along, a little too sing-along for my liking really. I’m afraid they’ve just lost their edge.

The disappointing thing is that I would probably love this record if it had a little less time spent on production. I am an Anti Flag fan by the way, just a little disillusioned. I think toned down a bit these songs would come across with a great deal more integrity. Their intentions cannot be knocked but I believe they’ve gone about putting them forward in a way that will actually put off the people that will respect their beliefs.
I feel let down by this record; I think I just miss the old days when Anti Flag were punk rock.