Stiff Little Fingers formed in Belfast at the height of the
Troubles. They raved about authority and yelled about the
Northern Ireland conflict in the youthful way that epitomised
punk. Barbed Wire Love, Suspect Device, At The Edge
and Straw Dogs acted as a soundtrack to what was happening on the streets. Like an angry Elvis Costello, Jake Burns' vocals and SLF's dynamic sound gave us a very raw viewpoint to the environment they were in.
These days the Irish troubles are over, but Burns is still raging and has turned his attentions to other affairs in their latest release No Going Back. This time the band have varied their sound, there's some folk, rock and pop but the punk heart still beats through the album. Liars Club is a great opening track that sums up the tone of the album in terms of sound and content. The song will be familiar to those who have been at SLF gigs and it's nice to finally see it on an album. Even though it was inspired by Blair and Bush it's still painfully relevant. My Dark Places and Full Steam Backwards continue the bands reputation for confronting issues head on such as depression and the banking crisis.
Guilty As Sin switches the feel to traditional folk complete with mandolin, acoustic guitars and an Irish whistle, it works really well. One Man Island shakes things up again with a politically rousing and memorable song returning the band to their punk roots. Trail Of Tears is a metal inspired track with a nod to Thin Lizzy and Maiden with some nice duel guitar work, it's definitely one of the strongest songs on the album. Since Yesterday Was Here is a punk tune that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 70s, but here it's been dressed up as Oliver’s Army. The track, as you would expect from SLF is full of social commentary reminding us that world affairs from yesterday aren’t so different from now, they just evolve into something else – which kind of describes the band in their current form. The sentiments of punk have never really gone away, they just adapt to their musical surroundings.
The maturity of SLF is clear throughout the album, they have moved their sound on, resonating with their old fans and picking up some new ones along the way.