There are loads of unwritten rules in life. Chew with your mouth closed, don’t fart in a lift, look straight ahead when you’re using a urinal and possibly the most important one of all:
If you want to keep your friends, don’t talk to them about religion, politics or TRC.
For anyone that doesn’t know, London’s TRC are the most polarising group of Englishmen since Bring Me The Horizon. These hardcore lads are always getting equally impressive amounts of love and hate. From their sixteen-legged inception back in 2003 where they were beloved by their LBU brethren, they were ridiculed so much for their ‘chavs with guitars’ image that some people actually still think their name stands for Teenage Robbing Crew (it doesn’t, it’s The Revolution Continues). Nowadays, the first comment on a TRC YouTube video is just as likely to be insulting frontman Chris Robson as it is praising their music. Nation ensures that this split opinion won’t change one bit.
Hardcore is predominantly more about the feeling and aggression than technical proficiency or musical diversity, and that leads to a lot of this subgenre sounding a bit similar. However, that potential negative is addressed as early as during the opening track 3 Letters, 4 Seasons which transforms from an old school vibe that is reminiscent of Minor Threat to an extremely unexpected and rather anti-hardcore downbeat electro sound. 10,000 Hours follows with conversation-like lyrics describing a day in the life of their Dappy-loving bar-spitting front man, but something’s not right. Then, just as you think you’re listening to a new band called Chris Robson and the TRCs, second vocalist Anthony Carroll makes his first appearance on the album in Motivator and that’s where the album really begins to take off.
Guitarist and main songwriter Charlie Wilson excels his past efforts on this record. The mix of punk and metal-tinged hardcore is interesting enough that you don’t know whether you should headbang like a metalhead, pogo like an old-school punk or swing your fists like a hardcore kid. But the female vocalist in Between Bridges, ear candy synth lines, occasional electronic drum sounds and piano sections that litter the twelve tracks are what really make this different to other hardcore releases. Lasselle ‘Black Lavenda’ Lewis provides the drums which have also vastly improved in terms of speed and fill creativity. This is a definite musical step up from 2011′s Bright Lights.
Chris Robson has never been one to mince his words and Nation is like reading his Twitter to music. The lyrics are as straight as Roman roads and intensely motivational – it is perfect workout music. There’s very little metaphor, lots of confrontational sentiment dripping with city slicker slang, but also a significant amount of softly spoken honest descriptions of Chris’ inability to balance being in a band with a steady relationship. There’s a tongue in cheek feel to parts of it too, in particular the rhyming of ‘plonker’ with ‘I stay hard like varnish covering a conker’ making a case for most facepalm-inducing line in hardcore… and you know Robson penned that with a smile on his face. His vocals dominate the album, but as he’s the frontman, to expect anything else would be foolish. The twin vocal attack of old is gone; Anthony Carroll’s cockney screams are now more of a novelty than a feature, which would be a massive shame if it wasn’t for the fact they just don’t sound as ferocious as in the past.
Nation shows a definite maturity in TRC’s sound. The added elements make it more of an intriguing listen than past albums but it must be said that it doesn’t contain the pure excitement that their last full length did.
It is a must listen for both lovers and haters alike: if you liked them before, you’ll love them now. If you’re already a hater, you’ve just got yourself a hell of a lot more ammo.
For Fans Of: Hacktivist, E Town Concrete, While She Sleeps.