Among the chaos and the pure, unfiltered energy SOUL GLO have been able to create over the years, there is a sense of vulnerability too. “I think I’ve just always gravitated more towards writing about emotions than writing about politics, simply because I feel like I know more about my emotions than I do about politics,” SOUL GLO’s Pierce Jordan said in an interview with Brooklyn Vegan recently. Diaspora Problems is the Philadelphia punk group’s new album, and it may just be their most complete body of work to date. 12 tracks and 39 minutes of pure unfiltered heat.
“Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)” starts with a bong hit, then guitar leads that burst into life, with Pierce Jordan’s manic voice asking “Can I live? Can I live? / Can I live? Can I live? / Can I pull out the needles I’ve been stuck with? / In a bloodletting, I’ma turn into drip”. It’s fierce, riveting way to open the album out, with TJ Stevenson’s drums, Ruben Polo’s guitars and GG’s basslines exploding into life, not only throughout this track, but the entire album. “Coming Correct Is Cheaper” features some of my favourite moments on the album, with heavy guitar riffs exploding into life at the 45-second mark. “I’m used to losing control and feeling detained / But the glow of my soul’s worth more to me than my name” is quite a powerful lyric. The heaviness of his own life experiences, the racist institutions and social numbness to racism as a whole is a big part of the frustration the band feels as a whole, as to all Black people in western, racist societies, but the soul is the one thing nobody can take away from people, no matter how depressing and dark shit gets. It’s pretty much the type of energy I feel throughout the album, with them going the fuck off musically. “F****d Up If True” has the same, almost demonic energy that just continuously hits throughout, same with “Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)((by the future))”. Though their sound for the majority of the album centres around punk-like guitar riffs, they also incorporate disorienting industrial hip-hop on “Driponomics” featuring Mother Mayrose. The synths and programmed drums here are exceptional. “We Wants Revenge” revolts against the weakness, or rather ineffectiveness of political and social protests – “I’m so bored by the left, protests, and reluctance to militarize / No one’s left blind by eye for an eye unless you make the same mistake twice”. Their vision aligns with quite a lot of Black Liberation movements that hope to achieve a complete overhaul of the current system, but it’s frustrating seeing protests and promises not leading to substantial change. “John J” is another absolutely explosive track, featuring Kathryn Edwards and Zula Wildheart, who offer their voices and contributions to a track that is one of the more powerful and forward tracks on the album. “Spiritual Level Of Gang Shit” features two of my favourite emcees in McKinley Dixon and Lojii, who provide angry and political lyrics in front of clear drums and a subtle guitar lead, with an intense cacophony of guitar-fuelled rage in between their verses combining quite a sonic contrast. It’s a fantastic way to close the album out, and again showcases SOUL GLO’s ability to draw inspiration from their contemporaries, while also bringing something incredibly fresh and new to the punk genre.
Diaspora Problems is an exceptional, gut-punch of an album, showcasing SOUL GLO’s ability to create a loud, powerful and unfiltered sound that is completely overwhelming and necessary for the times. It’s a cohesive, compact body of work that doesn’t give you a second to breathe, yet it’s so captivating to the point where I had to play it back to back as soon as the final seconds closed it all off. Go listen to and support SOUL GLO’s exceptional Diaspora Problems below!