When Desaparecidos’ first album, Read Music/Speak Spanish, came out in 2002, it’s unlikely anyone could have conceived a ferocious punk song about the do-gooder who wants to help the world, but only while logged into Facebook. Now, on its 2015 follow-up LP, Desaparecidos’ “Slacktivist” exists in the same world — and it knows it — as this 1.5 million times-viewed Slavoj Žižek video on cultural capitalism.
As lead singer and songwriter Conor Oberst puts it:
Just “like” this and the problem is solved
I want to start to kick back and get involved
Everyone is selfless it’s so much fun
Donate a dollar with my coffee and save someone
That’s the most remarkable thing about Payola, out today on Epitaph Records: that it ends by eloquently considering Occupy Wall Street, the ’08 financial crisis, sell-out politicians, racist Southwestern sheriffs, the hacker group Anonymous, NSA surveillance and music industry manipulation.
But it still starts with the slashing guitars and towering production of a record that still wants to put a brick through a fat cat’s window.
Just because it’s paid closer attention to the news than the vast majority of protest records, hasn’t softened the ire of Oberst’s ghostly, expansive lead vocals, Denver Dalley’s guitar stabs or the solidarity choruses from people like Cursive’s Tim Kasher and Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace.
Now, here’s our podcast review: