Agit-punk has often gotten a bad reputation in music critic circles. The politically-charged anti-authority punk style is one that people (usually, but not always, guys) fall in love with in high school or college, but then fall out of love with when they have to start working and paying taxes, and comes to be viewed as one of those ‘childish things’ to be put away. The outlandish outfits, combined with strident ‘take me seriously’ tone, usually do not age well. But if you’re gonna do agit-punk, do Rise Against, like on their latest, Wolves.
Wolves is not ‘just’ an agit-punk record. Indeed, its maybe best two songs, “House on Fire” and “Politics of Love” take agit-punk approach to the personal, failing relationships, which connect with a listener, no matter his or her age or political leanings. Yes, there are still political songs – this is the age of Trump – such as “The Violence” (whose video shoot permit was rescinded at the last moment due to the band being “anti-government”), “Bullshit”, and “Mourning in Amerika” (political double-entendres are another hallmark of agit-punk), but they are largely more meaningful than most political punk songs. And the more general ‘call to action’ pieces such as the titular opener and the closer “Miracle” particularly work.
Agit-punk is always going to be a chosen taste, and means something different when you’re thirty-five versus when you’re fifteen. But Rise Against prove the meat on the bone.