Band Of Holy Joy have gone through many incarnations of musical imagination, inspiration and output, without straying from their roots in poetic expressions of social observation and critique - and good tunes! As are their diverse spiritual brethren - The Mekons, Nightingales, The Pop Group - Johny Brown and compatriots are best in periods of social upheaval and rule by opportunistic, insipid demagogues, which is why Band Of Holy Joy, like the aforementioned bands, are in the midst of a powerful renaissance. Rarely had an album title inadvertently captured the zeitgeist in as perfectly absurd a manner as the last full length, Funambulist We Love You, and its ‘hit’ (if you will) was the metaphorical To Leave Or Remain, which caught the shock of the Brexit vote results at a moment so hazy with confusion that the issuecould still be read as a metaphor for confusion in a personal relationship. But that ship’s sailed. What only two years ago was vaguely plaintive consideration in the face of a coming storm has now cemented into rage. In real terms, Neon Primitives’ stand-out track, The Devil Has A Hold On The Land, names the very forces of evil which have led to the ills of 2019. It’s unlikely any other song released this year will call to mind the insanity of the current crises when we dare to look back, some years from now. Not to diminish the powerof the album as a whole . . . Lost In The Night’s palate-cleansing exorcism leads the way to The Devil Had A Hold On The Land. A surprise cover of Vincent Gallo’s So Sad is the drowsy Sunday morning hangover to Ecstasy Snowbirds’ woke realisation of a failed relationship. Take Head Calumniators is a call to arms against deceivers, breaking the introspection of the two previous songs. The second side features four songs of loose optimism performed in a mixture of styles. Some People Have Winged Fortune fractures aversion of the melody from Orange Juice’s Upwards And Onwards to a message of hope. Urban Pilgrims, lyrically reminiscent of Band Of Holy Joy’s early song craft, is a half-told tale of spiritual renewal in a landscape which would seem antipathetic to any form of rebirth. Electric Pilgrims links the process of aging to the nearness of satori. The epic closer We Are Sailing To The Island Of Light is a dark sea shanty championing the shambolic assortment of people who offer hope in dark times; a riposte to those forces of evil called out in The Devil Has A Hold On The Land.