The The

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2000, 12:00am

The The - Naked Self (Nothing) Some say politicians and pop musicians operate along similar lines: both need to be seen waxing lyrical on a pedestal the masses elect them to. Rock-loving prime ministers are still few and far between, but rock stars feeding on political posturing are everywhere.

It was easy to resort to radical sloganeering and self-proclaimed anarchic themes to make your point; from the Manics to Chumbawamba, groups have long made obvious grand statements a way to vent their anger. The The's Matt Johnson, however, definitely begs to disagree.

Ever since 1979, Johnson has made stunningly twisted music to help in stamping his ground - but never has he been content to do it the lazy way.

Eschewing the demagogy that plagues most champions of social causes, he instils his fears about social isolation and rampant consumerism into his creation.

Naked Self, his first original material in eight years, follows the examples set by Infected and Mind Bomb in the 1980s. Whether it is the sonic distortion of Boiling Point, the power pop of Swine Fever and Voidy Numbness or the acoustic strumming of December Sunlight, Johnson manages to depict the claustrophobic nature of modern capitalist society.

The challenging material on show harbours enough angst and fury to drown out the latest pseudo-punk upstarts. Naked Self is exactly what U2 and Simple Minds - peers of Johnson - would sound like had they remained undazed by stardom and kept their egos in check - two diversions Johnson has managed to steer clear of, thus earning himself a cult status that politicians and rock stars would envy.