The Cops' debut, Get Good Or Stay Bad, flagged the Seattle band as uppity punk revivalists with an axe to grind. On the new Free Electricity, their politics are no less incisive—only now there's a sharper edge to the music to match. Catchy yet dark, the disc ditches the bits of reggae and funk that marred Get Good in favor of twitchy, tightly clenched rock. With clashing suppleness and rigidity—topped by Michael Jaworski's pointy riffs and smoldering growl—Electricity recalls the overlooked The Ruts, even as songs like "Them Cats" skirt the twisted art-garage of The Fall's early work. Placed in a contemporary context, The Cops are what Radio 4 should have become: A band that protests not just the abysmal state of the union, but the emptiness and almost instant obsolescence of neo-post-punk.

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