Your reaction to this album will probably depend upon whether or not you’ve already come to any conclusions regarding one of the most popular touring bands of the last few months.
If you’ve decided that the Alarm have come along by way of replacement for the Clash, you’re not only mistaken (on more than one count but you’re also going to be extremity disappointed. Indeed, those who have misinterpreted what the Alarm are about will probably claim that this album effectively chronicles their downfall.
Alternatively, if you re looking for a reasonably honest bunch of blokes who play fairly excitable; certainly accessible, quality pop songs – with a lyrical content stronger than 99 per cent of other chart material – then you need look no further.
The Alarm have come clean worth �Declaration’, proving that they owe much more to the early-Sixties style of protest song than they do to the anarchist charge of the late Seventies. Undeniably Dylan-influenced (right down to the sleeve design complete with cryptic poetical banter) Mike, Dave, Eddie and Twist offer up a collection of songs to guide the new generation through the tunnel of terror created by their predecessors.
An immediate favourite, �Marching On� is a clear and provocative youth anthem which tactfully, or tactically, steers clear of party political lines. Instead it offers a straightforward chant urging our elders to “Take a Iook at what you’ve created.”
No collection of protest songs could be complete without an anti-war number or two, and the Alarm present us with a scorcher in ‘Third Light’, a song questioning the role of patriots in the nuclear age. Sadly though they chose to almost totally mix out the lyric concerning the real crux of the matter.
With haunting harmonica, numerous hints of winds blowing and the direct reference to his classic ‘Forever Young’ (in ’68 Guns’), The Alarm don’t try to hide their respect for Bob Dylan. With this in mind, I found perhaps the most stimulating song on the album to be ‘Shout To The Devil’. Built upon a backing riff reminiscent of the American’s ‘(Most Likely) You’ll Go Yom Way And I’ll Go Mine’, we must assume that the similarity is deliberate and that the Alarm are now seemingly dishing out directives to their �preacher/teacher”, as well as to anyone else who they feel is in need of advice on modern morality.
An album which will be remembered, and I hope not regretted, for its bold sense of optimism, ‘Declaration’ can be stamped both intriguing and exciting. More than just a worthy debut, it’s sure to be enough for the time being.