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Backwards Country Review

Backward Country is a political track about gun violence issues in America. It very cleverly uses the 90s rock aesthetic to explore this message. It utilizes the sounds of America to understand the culture where these tragedies happen.

GRIFFEN HANDSHAKE, the band behind Backwards Country, made the clear distinction that this is not an anti-American song. The genre choices and sonic decisions present throughout the track back this up. The crunchy and distorted rock guitar lights up the composition, guiding the melody with the vocals. The layers of guitar that come in during the chorus add depth to the sonic language of the song without sacrificing that intensity. The sound feels like a wave that washes over you. That, combined with the hiss of the drums reminded me a lot of the classic American rock sound. The severity of the themes of this track, juxtaposed with this style, gives it an ambiguous atmosphere. Is it a parody of the overconfidence present in the American rock of the nineties or a love letter to it, telling its serious message through a beloved sonic medium?

The vocal delivery reminds me a little of Green Day but also of The Smiths. There is something about the cadence, verging on spoken word, that felt reminiscent of Morrissey. The lyrics they deliver hold no punches, undressing the complexity of the issue around guns in America with lines like “Gun nation, blundered, flawed.” There is also an awareness about their lack of ability to change it. “You can say the right thing but not do anything.” This lyric feels like a bold statement, calling out the structure of lobbyists and officials that keep the cycle going. My favourite line is “Our leaders are a cruise ship band.” This line feels clever in two ways. Of course, cruise ship bands do not have the best reputation for quality. Secondly, the audience is captive. In the same way you may have to choose between an acrobatics show or an improvised jazz embarrassment for entertainment on a cruise ship, many people feel the political choices they do have are just picking the least bad option, as opposed to someone who supports their values.

Backward Country is an intelligent critique of serious issues present in modern-day America. It presents them with biting and acerbic lyrics and a crunchy rock core. The track delivers its message while creating an energetic and bold sound.


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