The Subhumans are one of the best and well-known bands of the whole anarcho-punk movement of the '80s, mostly due to their appeal outside of the anarchist ghetto. Strip away the ideals and politicking and you've got some classic punk rock that just cannot be beat. While some of the other bands of the era got pigeonholed to a certain sound (and sect) the Subhumans constantly evolved musically, incorporating a ton of different elements in their songwriting while maintaining a solid punk background.
But the thing is, you can't really separate the music from the ideals. And why would you want to? What's the point of being angry when you're not sure where that anger comes from? The Subhumans gave a voice to a frustration that countless youth in the UK (and abroad) struggled with and did so in a way that made sense. Dick Lucas' lyrics were never condescending. The band's stance never felt as if it was being handed down from a pulpit. Like any great punk rock band, the Subhumans were their audience and this paints a pretty good picture of why their music and ideas continue to speak to people today.
That said, while many other of the anarcho bands faded away, the Subhumans carried on, whether it be through their own label Bluurg or the many other bands the members started. To my ears, there isn't much difference between the Subs' music and that of the band's almost identical twin, Citizen Fish. More over, CF is practically made up of the same members and definitely the same message. My point: The Subhumans never really went away.
The band released a new full-length Internal Riot in September of 2007 after touring again for almost a full decade under the Subhumans moniker, another in a long line of fantastic albums, and proves that the band is just as relevant now as ever.
Band site: www.myspace.com/subhumansuk
Words and Pictures: Justin Rosenthal