It does what it says on the can: from start (?Exile?) to finish (?Capital?), this is a protest, an indignant and righteous rejection of the everyday stupidity and cruelty of modern life. It’s one articulate outburst; vocalist Tom Lyngcoln writes fully formed lyrics that don’t fall foul of the usual protest song cliches. And, on this record, you can hear them over the jazz-inflected scream of Lyngcoln’s guitar, the thundering fuzz of Matt Weston’s bass and the neat beats of drummer Dan McKay.
Throughout, The Nation Blue maintain their commitment to melody; they’ve always written some of the catchiest tunes ever yelled. ?We Lost Everything? is an instant Oz rock classic – professional moper/Something For Kate frontman Paul Dempsey even pops in to deliver some unexpectedly funky organ. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
While it’s still largely a rock and rock affair, Protest Songs does see the band take the foot off the accelerator long enough to deliver the quieter, more reflective ?Walk Them Home? and bluesy, almost Drones-esque closer ?Capital?. Not emo enough for the facepaint and tight trousers crew; not Oz rock enough for suburbanites; not from-Sydney enough for JJJ. The Nation Blue are out there on their own. Good on them.