Flobots – Fight With Tools


Flobots - Fight With Tools
Flobots Live

So today, I received my copy of the new Flobots album, “Fight With Tools”, and all I can say is these guys have got me excited… in a big way. Despite the fact that they’ve been taking a pounding in the music blogosphere lately, I have high hopes for Flobots.

The problem with that Popmatters review linked to above – in my opinion – is that they seem to be missing the entire point of the song that they eviscerate there, “Handlebars”; something which I find surprising, considering the fact that the point is made clear by the video that accompanied the single. Let’s take a look at some of the choice words in that review:

At one point in “Handlebars”, the narrator boasts that he and his friend made a comic book. Hey guy, guess what? I made a bunch of comic books with my friend Josh when we were kids. It was a series called Goggle Guy. We made about 10 different issues and actually sold some of them. Call me when you and your buddy pop out issue number two, which will hopefully happen sometime before you “end the planet in a holocaust” as you threaten toward the end of your little brag session.

Um. No. See, as I see it, the song isn’t about a bragging session at all. It’s a song about the infinite possibilities that we all have as kids; that idiom that anything is possible as long as we believe in ourselves. After all, it’s opening lines of “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars” hit you over your head with that wide-eyed, child-like innocence

But, at the same time, it’s a song about how that potential is beaten out of us by life… how life can jade us, and steal our innocence.

And, ultimately, it’s a song that talks about the fact that, while we have all the potential in the world to do all these good things (“I can design an engine sixty four miles to a gallon of gasoline, I can make new antibiotics“), we squander this responsibility. When they’re talking about “ending the world in a holocaust”, they aren’t literally saying that they will (I feel like a dumbass for even having to point that out to the reviewer)… they’re talking about the powers that be. I mean, listen to that last stanza and it’s blindingly obvious:

My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let’em all die from exasperation
Have’em all healed from their lacerations
Have’em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don’t like’em and
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command
Because I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
And I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope
And I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust

Gah. I got a bit carried away there, but that review irritated me no end, and I needed to get that out. But this post isn’t meant to be an analysis of “Handlebars”.

What this is meant to be, is a post saying: these guys are good. Mixing hip-hop with a groove-fusing rhythym section, violins and trumpets… in a tightness beyond belief? Yeah, it’s good. And the productions values on “Fight With Tools” looks to have been flawless.
While they may not be “Rage Against The Machine” (and, let’s be honest, they’re nowhere near the same league… but then again, who is?), they offer something: they offer change. They offer hope. And that’s what music should do.


I’ve included three tracks from the album below. The first is the album intro, “There’s a War Going On For Your Mind“, which sets the mood for the album to come. The second, “Mayday!!!“, is a hard-hitting track, that in the hands of a lesser band, might have become a wall of mashed sound… yet somehow, Flobots pull it off. And, of course, the final track is the single, “Handlebars“.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Flobots – There’s A War Going On For Your Mind
Listen: Flobots – Mayday!!!
Listen: Flobots – Handlebars

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2 Comments

  1. WhatTheFunk
    November 14, 2008
    Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I read the review you quoted and I was struck by how little the author took from the album. Granted, the Flobots tend to hit you in the face with their message often and with great gusto, but frankly — the guy who wrote the article compared them to Rage, and I see a lot more parallels than he seemed to draw. Zach de la Rocha was just as intense about his message, and while their music does rock, I think there’s something to be said for the Flobots’ unique take on rhythm — especially Mackenzie Roberts on viola. Maybe it’s just personal taste, but I think they’re fantastic. Even leaving aside all the work they did for Rock the Vote during the election this year (cool link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOk9B1hYr4g) and they still come out smelling like roses. I’m looking forward to more from this outfit in the next couple years.

  2. Burgo
    November 14, 2008
    Reply

    @WhatTheFunk:

    Thanks for stopping by with such a great comment! Couldn’t agree with you more, really… you summed it up far better than I did in my review ;)

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