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Gang of Four Return the Gift

Half of Gang of Four‘s power was unspoken. Jon King‘s calls into the night about everyday life among the living dead were matched by guitarist Andy Gill‘s equal hits of clarity and chaos, and a thrash-funk rhythm section contradicted the horrors with a demand that everyone do The Hustle. Sadly, the power of the most lyrically and musically profound UK punk band was diminished when they later became a hipster name-drop. On Return the Gift King‘s declarations are still arresting and the rhythms still push over cars. Unfortunately, there are losses: Gill‘s riffs are dulled with distortion and sound pitifully generic, while many key touches, like the guitar tick-tocks on "Why Theory?" and the trapkit smacks on "Not Great Men," are muted. Do King‘s alarms still ring in our time? Yes. Is this record an excuse not to hear the original songs? Absolutely not.

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