Regressive Left release debut ‘On The Wrong Side of History’ EP
Regressive Left are releasing their new EP, ‘On The Wrong Side of History’, today on the Bad Vibrations imprint! To celebrate the release the trio are also sharing a new video for the 'World On Fire' track. Check out the video and full EP below and pick up the 12” here.
In dark, troubling times, maybe the most instantly gratifying solace one can seek is a wittily barbed diagnosis of the situation. “The fox has his den. The bee has his hive. The stoat … his stoat-hole,” Stewart Lee once remarked: “But only man chooses to make his nest in an investment opportunity.”
Caustic retorts like this are what fuel the debut EP by dance-punk outfit Regressive Left, ‘On The Wrong Side of History’. For pervading through their dynamic and glitching music is a duty to report unflinchingly society’s ills. They are a staunchly political group, but far from your average po-faced by-numbers punk band. There is a gristly social commentary at the band’s core, but the songs themselves are characterised by a need to have fun, to find some kind of solace and escapism from the inevitable rapture.
Hailing from the ex-industrial town of Luton, Simon Tyrie (vocals, electronics), Georgia Hardy (drums, backing vocals) and Will Crosby (guitars, backing vocals) make up Regressive Left. Having spent their teenage years playing in unsuccessful indie bands, sometimes together, the trio used their first-lockdown boom of creativity to try their hands at something new.
Recorded over an intense 5-day spell with in-demand producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, MIA, Amyl and The Sniffers) in Sheffield, Regressive Left’s debut EP ‘On The Wrong Side of History’ was immortalised over a handful of 11am-1am sessions in his studio. In many ways it is a time capsule of the maelstrom of ideas that got the group to this point in the first place – the infuriating, bleak political climate, and the urge to find escapism from it – consigned to vinyl in one herculean effort.
"Before we started working with Ross, we spent two hours on a call with him putting the world to rights,” Tyrie says. “Even though he lives up the other end of the country, we felt we had more in common with him than any London producers that wanted to work with us. He understood the project and what we were about, and that was really important to us.”
Taking influence from the booming post-punk, funk and disco scenes of New York, Regressive Left’s sound is stark and danceable. Angular guitar scratches meet dirty synth basslines, whilst Simon Tyrie’s Edwyn Collins croon is chased around by effervescent drums.
The EP’s title track (‘The Wrong Side of History’) is a sprawling, club-ready number, driven by chromatic earworm motifs on a bright analogue synth. Here, Regressive Left revel in repetition, each bar introducing a new glitching layer to the composition, whilst Tyrie's sardonic vocals become increasingly frenzied. “I started writing it years ago,” says the frontman: “It was more of a basic spoken word piece from a place of anger and bitterness. Over time it became more and more silly, until it became something to dance to. But on a more granular level, it’s about western imperialism, greed, capital, fear of the other… and what it means to be ‘on the wrong side of history’.”
‘World on Fire’ sees a live favourite committed to record with infernal aplomb. Frenetic drums and breathy vocal harmonies from Georgia Hardy propel the track in all sorts of directions, whilst Crosby’s guitar playing alternates between astral reverb-laden soloing and choppy Talking Heads fare.
Amidst the catharsis, Tyrie’s vocals are a glib stream of consciousness; “the world for a trust fund”, he yelps throughout. Speaking about the track, the frontman says: “We’re burning the world for the sake of investment portfolios. Meanwhile we’re hoping that so-called green stocks can save us, when the problem is the system itself.”
‘Bad Faith’ is an LCD-style dance-punk cracker that sears along at breakneck pace, synthesised bells in tow. Valentine Caulfield from the Manchester experimental combo Mandy, Indiana makes a guest appearance, quoting French psychoanalyst Octave Mannoni's paradoxical mechanism: “Je sais bien, mais quand même.” In other words: “I know very well, but even so…” The lyrics are acerbic, a comment on a counterproductive political media climate overly concerned with bad faith arguments. “This song essentially focuses on the idea of deliberately assuming the worst of someone or something they’ve said or done”, remarks Tyrie: “Social media has really amplified this trend: everyone has to have a take. So we read between the lines and make wild accusations on the faintest of evidence. It’s something of an art, but one that I think is ultimately detrimental to society.”
Meanwhile ‘No More Fun’ is a flashy closer mixing a litany of fizzing electronic textures with a lightning drum performance – sounding somewhere between Suicide and The Rapture, a wild-eyed post-internet CAN.
“This song was originally called ‘Tuna In A Cash Bag,’” Tyrie says. “It was around the time of the free school meals debacle, and someone posted a picture of some tuna scraped into a plastic coin bag to show how meagre and depressing the “free school meals” were for the kids that needed them. I saw someone reply to the tweet saying ‘Tuna In A Cash Bag’ sounded like a song John Peel would play, so obviously we had to write it.”
This anecdote and ‘No More Fun’ is Regressive Left – in all their glory and writhing contradictions – in microcosm. The banal horror of life in Tory Britain, expressed with sharp and dry wit and then set to truly barnstorming and infectious dance music. An apt soundtrack for the end times.