Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Move Black Radical Love

Triple B
Triple B

The 1985 MOVE bombing is one of those historical incidents where, whenever you learn some new detail about it, you get even more enraged. MOVE, a Black radical organization with a back-to-the-land bent, lived communally in a Philly rowhouse, and the local authorities decided they they had to go, mostly over petty annoyances like trash and bullhorn demonstrations. The mayor decreed MOVE to be a terrorist organization, and when the members refused to leave the house, a police helicopter dropped a bomb on the place. Six adults and five kids were burned alive. Only two people managed to escape the house, and one of them was immediately locked up for seven years. Cops reportedly shot at the survivors as they were running away. The resulting blaze destroyed dozens of homes. None of the police or officials who murdered these people faced any consequences.

Move, the Boston hardcore band, has made it clear that they don’t spell their name in all-caps because they don’t want to appropriate the symbolism of the actual MOVE organization, which still exists. (That MOVE’s name isn’t an acronym for anything.) But Move the band clearly picked their name as a reference and an homage, and they make music that’s built on the same kind of rage that so many of us feel when we read about the MOVE bombing. The members of Move treat music as a serious mission, and their sense of catharsis goes beyond the broken-friendship fury that drives so much hardcore.

Right now, Move aren’t the only hardcore band that’s singing about Black radical politics and camaraderie. Later this month, the band will play New York’s Tribes Of Da Moon festival, a two-day marathon of nothing but hardcore bands that foreground Black voices. Hardcore started out as Black music — the entire genre owes its existence to Bad Brains — and the Tribes Of Da Moon lineup includes veterans like Burn, a band that started in late-’80s NYC. But the festival also features a ton of Move’s peers: Soul Glo, Buggin, End It, Truth Cult, Thirdface, Adrienne.

The most obvious point of comparison for Move is Zulu, the LA band who already released one of this year’s best albums and whose Christine Cadette guests on Move’s full-length debut Black Radical Love. Both Move and Zulu sing about collective action, standing up to adversity, and the importance of highlighting joy just as much as rage. Both of them mix thunderous mosh-music with spoken-word interludes and samples about their philosophical positions. But where Zulu are an unpredictable beast that’s starting to fold different genres — rap, funk, jazz — into its heavy attack, Move are much more of an orthodox hardcore band. That’s not a slight. Down-the-middle hardcore can be a glorious thing, and Move know how to harness its power.

Black Radical Love is Move’s first full-length after a 2020 demo and a 2021 EP. The band got started in 2019, but they didn’t get a chance to start playing shows until after the pandemic. In those early records, you can hear a pent-up sense of purpose — all this frustration building up without the cathartic outlet of the live show. Black Radical Love, on the other hand, hits with a physical ecstasy that never dims the anger.

Much of Black Radical Love is given over to Move leader Corey Charpentier, as well as guests like Jesus Piece’s Aaron Heard, talking about the outrages they see all around them. On opener “Double Death,” it’s the way the media demonizes the victims of police killings: “Before your body touches dirt, you’re smeared across the news! Double death! A fucking twin killing!” On “Trojan Horse,” it’s the idea that financial success will lead to any kind of liberation: “Capitalism ain’t a solution! Just exploitation! And collusion!” But Move also come armed with an optimism that a better world is possible, and the album’s tracks often work as motivational fight songs for the rebellion that they see just around the corner: “We’re in the belly of the beast! Watch as we rise and it falls to its knees!”

With Move, the music itself isn’t just a means to and end. It’s a joyous outlet of its own. For me, the most outright endearing track on Black Radical Love is “Ode To The Pit,” the song where they mostly just sing about how much they love moshing: “Kicking! Spinning! Jumping in the air! We gettin’ down, and we don’t have a care!” Lots of hardcore bands write songs specifically constructed to generate big responses in the pit, but not too many of them write songs about the actual act of moshing.

If Black Radical Love existed as nothing but a political statement, it would still merit consideration. But Black Radical Love also works as a straight-up hardcore album. You can’t ignore its lyrics, since you can never ignore the lyrics on a hardcore record; words are too important to the music’s impact. But an instrumental version of Black Radical Love would still destroy your face. The record is full of nasty riffs, eerie cymbal-taps, and sudden downshift lurches into the song-ending mosh-part breakdowns. Move can do thrash-metal divebomb solos that land just as hard as the ones from the actual thrash bands out there. They play fast enough to be exhilarating but slow enough that you can feel the weight of the riffs. Corey Charpentier has a commanding blurt of a voice. I haven’t seen Move live yet, but I can already close my eyes and see the way people will react to these songs.

Hardcore doesn’t need a larger context, a grand point. It’s existed for decades, both as a genre and a community, without presenting any kind of holistic political viewpoint. If you can make music so viscerally satisfying that you can get people to physically react, then you’re doing hardcore right. Move, like a few of their peers, excel at that part of hardcore, but they also connect it to something bigger than themselves. They give you a reason to rage, and they supply you with the music that’ll bring you to that point. That’s not the only way to make hardcore, but when all of it lands, as it does on Black Radical Love, it only hits harder.

Black Radical Love is out 8/11 on Triple B Records.

Other albums of note out this week:

• Noname’s Sundial
• Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You
• Benny The Butcher’s Everybody Can’t Go
• The Hives’ The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons
• Hurry’s Don’t Look Back
• Andrew Hung’s Deliverance
• Jungle’s Volcano
• Karol G’s Mañana Será Bonito (Bichota Season)
• Kelsea Ballerini’s Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good)
• Reason’s Porches
• Public Image Ltd.’s End Of World
• Spencer Zahn’s Statues I
• Ken Carson’s A Great Chaos
• Cordovas’ The Rose Of Aces
• Hail The Sun’s Divine Inner Tension
• G Flip’s Drummer
• Velvet Starlings’ Pacific Standard Time
• Laura Groves’ Radio Red
• Tove Lo’s Dirt Femme (Extended Cut)
• Neil Young’s lost album Chrome Dreams
• The Tell Everybody! (21st Century Juke Joint Blues From Easy Eye Sound) compilation
• Hollie Cook’s Happy Hour In Dub
• Liam Gallagher’s Knebworth 22 live album
• Killah Priest’s Mystery Channel EP
• Rob Moose’s Inflorescence EP
• carina’s after the stars EP
• Kate Teague’s Loose Screw EP
• Miso Extra’s MSG EP
• Kolb’s Power Of Thought EP

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