A history lesson about J Robert Oppenheimer couched in angular post-punk grooves.
For the rest of the country Warrington's main claim to fame is rugby league. Musically however it tends to be overlooked by its bigger neighbours Liverpool and Manchester. As is often the case if you did a little deeper our smaller towns have much to offer culturally and Warrington is no exception. One group with roots in the woolyback heartlands is Extradition Order. Their latest album is being co-released by no less than five record labels. Those labels are Gare Du Nord, Blang, Jezus, Helen Llewellyn Product 19, and I Blame The Parents Records. That in itself is an interesting scenario – let's hope they split the costs and don't argue about who did or didn't order a starter.
Anyway back to the record. A concept album based on the life of physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, taking in US politics and the creation of the A-bomb. If that all sounds a little highbrow and decidedly “non sexy”, fear not. The band are adept at laying down tough and angular post rock grooves, laced with slashing guitars and punchy brass, with lyrics that bring the subject matter to life. While it's educational, fun is still firmly on the agenda. Imagine if the Manic Street Preachers had grown up listening to Television, B52s, The Pop Group, Gang of Four and PIL, as opposed to hair metal bands. That's the mix of history lesson and passionate musical shapes we have here. The band describe American Prometheus as “a Northern Soul album about the atomic bomb”. That may be a stretch but it's a good chat-up line. There's a lack of finger-snapping Motown-beats but that's more than compensated by the record's cliché free romp, ragged sonic landscapes, thought-provoking lyrics and passionately delivered vocals.
So what do we learn of Oppenheimer? If like me you wished you'd paid more attention to history lessons at school, you'll welcome the insights gained via American Prometheus. Oppenheimer was instrumental in the Manhattan Project, a research and development project which resulted in the world's first nuclear bombs, later to be dropped on Hiroshima. Oppenheimer was also nominated for a Nobel Prize three times but was never awarded one, most likely down to his later public opposition against the bomb. There was also his complicated love life and left-wing politics. These aspects of his life are also touched upon, making for an album that's as much about the man's complicated inner life as it is about his legacy.
American Prometheus is dedicated to founder member and bass player Nick Boardman who sadly passed away in 2018. He leaves behind some fine musical contributions on this uniquely informative and highly enjoyable album.
Click here for Extradition Order's website.
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Clickhere for Gare Du Nord Records.