It’s no surprise that a majority of bands that tackle social issues and politics tend to do it discretely. In this way, fans will be introduced to the present ideas much more slowly as opposed to being hit by them on first listen, and the music will be more relatable to a wider audience as listeners who aren’t necessarily all for the concepts being advertised will be less likely to notice them. However, while this might be an effective commercial strategy, music can be just as good when going in the opposite direction, and bands who are unabashedly political will have no problem deferring some people away from their music if it means creating a more immediately powerful work.
This is where five-piece Manchester based Sonic Boom 6 comes in. Lacing their brand of pop and ska music with socio-political themes and arguments, their new album The F-Bomb is a force to be reckoned with and completely unashamed at the ideas it promotes. Even the album title sounds taboo, possibly referring to Feminism with the “F” and to Islamophobia and the drone strikes being conducted in the Middle East with the mention of “Bomb”. If it sounds like Sonic Boom 6 is already inching into large and complex territories, you might be happy to find out that they delve even deeper. For an album reaching into so many facets of society, The F-Bomb would probably see the most success in the hands of an intersectional feminist, touching on “body image, immigration, gender politics, and domestic abuse” to enhance their brand of feminism as described in their press release.
All of these concepts stuffed into one 40-minute album may sound like you’re in for a nonstop preaching session, but Sonic Boom 6 does a great job of diffusing the concepts into their personality-driven music. Take album opener “No Man, No Right”, for example. It sounds like the work of a group who is in on a little-known secret and loving every second they can mock those who aren’t. The song ridicules the arguments used to slut shame women and deride femininity with lines like “No man, no right / To define her sexuality / By a tattoo on the base of her back” and “No man, no right to call the woman bitch cause she don’t want you boy”. “From the Fire to the Frying Pan” offers a clever way of tackling refugee and immigration opposers by following little “Johnny” around, a representative character of the intense nationalism culture present in so many western countries today. The song shifts perspectives from Johnny’s (and his xenophobic friends’) to Sonic Boom 6’s so they can chime in with a critique or two and then back to Johnny again. Alternatively, the song also functions perfectly as a way of attacking imperialism and ill-applied/intentioned saviorism with beautifully unapologetic lines like “He’s just a boy in an angry mob” and “Some of ’em are gonna start a Holy War / How to tell them ones apart I’m still not sure.”
These first two songs being overtly political was all the album needed to color all the remaining songs without being so forthright. As The F-Bomb progresses, the social themes are infused into its infectious songs regarding self-worth and empowerment. Taken on their own, they might sound like basic pop ideas, but after the album’s lofty start, there’s no doubt that every song means to offer insight into modern feminism, brought to you through the wonderfully diverse music on the album. “Worship Yourself” is a sax-infused empowerment anthem (and probably applicable to victims of abuse as per the press release details) commanding to “Worship yourself / Don’t let him bring you done / Get out / He’s bad for your health.” “Do What You Wanna Do” functions similarly to “Worship Yourself”, but this time the big commandment is to essentially follow your dreams (go figure from the title) which is sold by the immense energy in the instrument section and production. There are only a few moments on the album that fall flat. “Train Leaves Tomorrow” and “L.O.V.E.” feature overused or unremarkable ideas and lines like “If I stand for love, will you stand there too?”. As a whole though, the lyrics tend to be a high point for the album, and the good intentions that seep through greatly contribute to Sonic Boom 6’s likability as a group.
In an age where politics are so polarized, The F-Bomb is a bold project to present to the world. Though with the confidence and personality the album exudes while also being highly consistent, they’ve done it in the best way possible. They’ve also done it in the most ways possible, traversing through so many lyrical and musical territories. And though there is this immense diversity, the album also has a clear root message in that you can put up a fight while having a great time doing it.