Over the course of their 30-year career, Winnipeg's Propagandhi have morphed and matured with remarkable grace. While their politics and core values have held steady, their music has slowly developed from spry, catchy pop punk into the aggressive blend of melodic hardcore and thrash featured on seventh LP Victory Lap.
This musical evolution may have come intuitively, but the band's lyrical themes are pointedly adapted to the current climate. "You say not all cops, you say not all men," Chris Hannah scowls on the title track before noting that "this whole damn beautiful life [is] wasted on you… and me." The following, sinister-sounding "Comply/Resist" addresses the hypocritical and condemnable treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the impossible double-binds they are constantly caught in.
In addition to these ever-pertinent social threats, the band deal here with the travails of getting older, and balance out the macro themes on the record with the personal. Bassist Todd Kowalski lost his father last year, and tackles painful experiences of grief and existential despair on "When All Your Fears Collide" and "Nigredo."
Recently acquired Tampa guitarist Sulynn Hago proves to be a natural fit with the band, working melodic counterpoints and flourishes into their winding song structures. She brings a jolt of fresh energy to a band that has become sage veterans of increasingly angry and desperate emancipatory politics. In a world where acts like Propagandhi are only becoming more necessary, it's reassuring to know that they have built an impassioned reserve, ready to pick up the cause no matter how long the Victory Lap may last. (Epitaph)