Following a trio of stellar singles released throughout 2021, England’s Benefits have returned with their first track of the new year, sharing the ferocious “Meat Teeth” this week.
Given the constant amount of news coming directly from our own country lately, it likely goes without saying that the average punter hasn’t been spending too much of their time thinking deeply in regards to matters of international affairs. Though the news cycle might occasionally devote time to our nearby neighbours or northern hemisphere counterparts, rarely are we given a deeper insight into what’s happening beneath the superficial exterior of ageing leaders lest we put in the legwork ourselves.
In recent years though, Benefits have been providing us with direct line to the current state of England and the UK, proving that – like The KLF once said – it’s grim up north, also.
Hailing from Teesside in the country’s north east, the project was founded just a few years ago by Kingsley Hall, former frontman of the now-defunct (and dearly missed) Chapman Family. Swapping brooding alternative rock for a mesmerising mix of noise-rock and spoken word compositions, Benefits describe themselves as “an issues based music collective” who “write songs about the urgencies that concern us”.
Having welcomed new fans into the fold last year by way of tracks such as the anti-nationalistic “Flag” or the rumination of constant conflict that is “Empire”, the group have now stormed into 2022 in a big way thanks to their latest effort, “Meat Teeth”.
A slow-burning slice of fury that sees Hall in full force, his blistering spoken vocals are soon joined by a dissonant instrumental that combines into a cacophonous crescendo that only gives way as he asks the final question: “Where will you be when England burns?”
“‘Meat Teeth’ was inspired by a combination of conversations from work last summer about feeling like you’d won the lottery at getting ten pounds an hour; chats online about the occasional pointlessness of leftist preachings to the converted; the ongoing horror of this comedy cartoon fascist government; and a realisation that we’re all going down on this shitty red white and blue ship together – some more comfortable than others admittedly, but by fuck, we’re all going down,” Benefits explains in a statement.
“The core of it was pulled together over Christmas ’21 when the combination of Downing Street party revelations and the sheer greed of the season started to tip me over the edge,” they add. “We turn these songs around quickly, the point of them is to release them so they’re relevant to the subjects we’re writing about. There’s no time to waste.”
Though the average Australian listener might not find themselves resonating heavily with a question such as “Where will you be when England burns?”, it remains a pertinent query, with the sentiment easily shifted to focus upon their homeland with the simple shift on one lone word.
Needless to say, the combination of music and message is a powerful one, and one that urges all listeners to wonder about their own standing in the world, and just which side of history they’ll find themselves on when the time comes.
Benefits’ “Meat Teeth” is out now.