Dear Douglas Wolk,
About a month ago my roommate told me that he wanted to buy that new Chumbawamba album [“Band for Sale,” November 14]. “It’s got that great drinking song on Q101,” he told me. I got confused. My roommate is kind of a metalhead. Was he talking about the same anarcho-pop band that I liked?
I bought the album and liked it. A lot. I tried to explain that “Tubthumping” wasn’t just a drinking song, but there were subtle undertones about the politically repressed seeking a voice. He just went into the other room and watched hockey. I put on Showbusiness and listened to “Give the Anarchist a Cigarette” and “The Day the Nazi Died.”
Chumbawamba pulled off a thoroughly enjoyable album with Tubthumper. What I really like about it is that it sounds far less preachy and dogmatic than their previous releases. The politics are more personal. All in all, they sound like they’ve matured as songwriters. They aren’t changing their message; they’re making it more readily available and more easily understood to ears that normally wouldn’t listen.
Have they sold out or have they figured out a different platform?