Sometimes, music is the most effective way to make irony, something post-punk band Hallan has made clear on their new single ”Modern England.”
Stream: “Modern England” – Hallan
Art, broadly speaking, has always been the mirror of reality. It is no coincidence that in order to study a certain historical period, we first go to analyze the works that were produced in it. Art reflects the mentalities, beliefs, and habits of the people to whom it refers. Hallan’s latest single, “Modern England,” is a perfect example of what we’re talking about.
Founded in February 2018 in Portsmouth, this post-punk band (that prefers to avoid labeling its music) is fairly new to the scene. Since then, they’ve only released three singles but have almost 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. This is because their music is spontaneous, and their lyrics are both frank and well thought out. Something you don’t find very often, which is why you should keep an eye on them.
First off, it’s important to note that “Modern England” doesn’t place itself as denouncing or even critiquing its subject matter. Conor Clements, the band’s frontman, has said the following regarding the track: “We want to reflect what’s going on in the here. We don’t want to make a one-sided political message or talk for a generation. The song is exactly what it sounds like. A condensed England if you will.”
In just four minutes and thirty seconds, the song covers pretty much everything. From Brexit to social anxiety obsessing over one’s social media image, “Modern England” manages to portray this world almost too well. A world made of pretenses, anguish, and boredom, which all lead up to one damning statement of “we want change,” which, not coincidentally, is the opening verse to the song.
We want change
In our lives
We don’t have the strength to do it right
Dirty air and a dirty feeling
Endless choking smog, pug obsession and stalking on Instagram: if we heard this song without the foggiest idea of what it talks about, we’d conjure up images of a world so grotesque that it would only be fitting in one of Luis Buñuel’s movies. “Modern England” describes a society that ignores its root problems whilst focusing on the virtual world.
England bleeds and suffers while there are those dedicated to the dream of “fat cats getting bigger”. In such a chaotic and apocalyptic atmosphere that is all too real, there are of course the students saddled with debt that feel like they’ve spent their entire youth chasing after something that won’t save them or guarantee them a future.
How many likes do you have?
Student loans and mortgage and youth
That you won’t ever get back
Using automated self-service machines
Avoiding interaction with a sentient human being
“Modern England” is thus a tragic tale told with great irony that mocks those that obsessively keep checking how many likes their photos have. It also takes time to make a bitter reflection.
Look at all the screens
Done damage to my brain
The beauty that I was
Will never be the same
It matters little if it’s the protagonist or England itself talking – both of them are suffering tremendously, and hope for the future is in short supply. But the desire for change and hope for a world that’s different from the one in “Modern England” is still there. “We want change,” sings Hallan. Given how “Modern England” isn’t all that different from other parts of the world, perhaps we too want change.
Stream: “Modern England” – Hallan
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