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Culture War 23 Review

Culture War 23 by 9 o’clock Nasty is an amalgamation of heartfelt joy, raw anger, and biting satire that come together to create a cohesive and articulate take on our society.

The first track Too Cool is an exploration of how modern coolness is manifested into this emotionally void husk of tattoos, expensive clothes, health fads, and superfoods. By contrasting that modernity with the chorus “too cool for school” it sort of undresses this stereotype into a classic high school popular guy, seeking validation just from a new source. The vocals are bold and powerful, establishing their dominant position in the mix of the whole album. I would say, however, that it’s funny that a track making fun of popularity is apparently one of the audience’s favourite songs and is always a hit when performed live.

Make Your Ghost is another great track exploring an absurdist perspective on life and our worth to the world. The guitar works as a call and response with the vocals, emphasising important lyrics like “cash out now.” To me, these phrases symbolise how what we value in life in terms of money or respect are just tokens, meaningless without their social context. I like the unified singing and the more staccato cadence, it’s something different that changes the pace of the album.

Sonically, Idiot Skin is my favourite track. The stylish swagger of the bassline is a nice touch, especially for a song about beauty and fashion. The use of discordance in the intro and throughout suggests that there is something wrong which, to me, reflects the skin-deep nature of the subject's beauty.

Savage Mechanic another thematically important song that covers the insanity of the grip social media has over many people’s lives, exploring how something used to connect has been twisted and monetised. You get a sense of the person behind these malicious choices through the track. The great use of dominant drumming along with the subtle distortion on the vocals helps to create a villainous vibe that suits the storyline brilliantly.

Disco Investors is about the bizarre nature of finance. How this arbitrary industry has helped the rich become ridiculously rich while keeping down those who are less well off with catchy yet flawed ideas such as trickle-down economics which gets a mention in the song. I’m disappointed that the track doesn’t highlight the Goldman Sachs CEO who is now a DJ on the side. I’m not joking, check out this news story.

The Album ends on an unexpectedly joyous note with Bird of Happiness. The song has a different vocalist at its head and a strong message about finding someone that makes you joyous.

I think this is the correct way to end the album. Believing in nothing feels as pointless as blindly following the crowd. By sticking a flag on this hill and declaring that love is meaningful, it contextualises all of the album's negativity towards superficiality, respect, money, and modernity. The album has a point, saying those things don’t matter but love does. I think it’s a strong narrative close that separates this album from a lot of absurdist and nihilistic projects I've heard before that just simply explore some ideas and then anti-climatically end.

Sort of like this.


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