Environmentally Conscious Albums Paint a Dark Picture of Near Future

By: Arthur DeSouza Alfaro
OwlFeed Journalist

“While the whole world melts, am I meant to just watch?” asks Nick Allbrook, lead vocalist of the band Pond, on their recent 2019 release “Tasmania.”

“Tasmania” is an album about the concerns of climate change. The issue of climate change has been an exponentially growing concern, being given awareness through all sorts of mediums, in this case, music.

This year, there have been many events that have filled the news with headlines about climate change. Events like the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN Climate Summit, and union-backed climate marches across the globe are drawing attention to the cause.

“Tasmania” serves as a reflection piece about the human race, more specifically higher-ups and mega-corporations, and their inability to do something about climate change. It dabbles on the feeling of shame and guilt about slowly watching the Earth be destroyed by our actions.

These sentiments are expressed in tracks like “Daisy.” This track depicts a world after the effects of climate change have taken their toll on planet Earth. The main narrator explains witnessing the death toll from the effects and having to live a day to day life even after these horrific events in this line, “Me and the men of the frontier stack the bodies in a heap. Jimmy grabs a beer and we wash our hands in the creek ooh, talk is cheap.”

planet B
Planet B Photo: MPR News

The idea of this bleak world is explored more in lines like, “Once we were dreaming of pearls. Now me and my sons all dream of iron,” where the narrator reminisces about the beautiful dreams of the past and compares them to the more industrial minded dreams of the new world. 

The music itself serves as an eerily joyful backdrop for these nightmarish scenarios, painted with beautiful string sections and lush chorus guitar. The drums are upbeat and make you want to dance while the world burns to ash. It’s almost as if this happiness is forced upon us just so that we can endure the nightmare that is the scenario we’re put through.

The whole record is laced with this melodic pop sound. The synth use is very heavy as compared to their previous work. The rhythms are upbeat and groovy, masquerading this record to be some sort of celebration, yet what’s happening underneath is them condemning the actions of us humans and the disposable way of life we’ve adopted.

Another band taking a stand on climate is King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Quite a mouthful, but so is what these Aussies have to say about the ever-changing climate. This year, the prolific seven-man psych-rocking band released two completely different records from one another. 

The first one is titled “Fishing For Fishies.” It’s a boogie-rock based album that slowly turns into this heavy electronic album when it hits the b-side, more on this very important aspect later. The entire premise of the album is an observation of humanity’s carelessness with the environment and their lack of concern about what their effect on the environment is.

The songs tackle different concerns like the fishing industry disturbing fish’s habitats on the opening track, “Fishing For Fishies” or the food industry’s habit of wrapping everything in plastics that take years and years to decompose like on the track “Plastic Boogie.”

Their boogie-rock approach gives the album a tongue-and-cheek tone for the A-Side of the record, while on the B-Side, things start to take a turn. They start incorporating more heavy sounds and even modular synthesizers towards the last leg of the record, taking their boogie rock melodies and mutating them into something more artificial, more synthetic.

Tracks like “Acarine” and “Cyboogie” flip the concept of the first half of the album on its head, using elements of techno and electronica. That transition from homey, bluesy, raw boogie-rock to synthetic, electronic techno represents the world’s transition from the beauty that is nature to the world now, ruled by the industries that destroy the environment for the sake of profit and disposable pleasures. 

Their next album is such a sharp turn from Fishies. It is its edgier, metal sibling that has such a pessimistic view on life that it makes you want to rock along with it in an existential sort of way. Its name is “Infest The Rats Nest.”

The world is trapped in a never-ending ball of flame, melting down to the core and it’s taking humanity with it. That’s basically the theme in synopsis. 

The first track, “Planet B,” gets straight to the point: There is no plan B for humanity. Once Earth is gone, it’s gone. Jam-packed with heavy drop-C tuned thrash metal riffs, this song, and this album as a whole is so brash and in your face. That’s its selling point of this album, really expressing how Earth will be a living incarnation of Hell, as told on the final track “Hell.” 

Rats Nest describes scenarios in this apocalypse after climate change such as only humanity’s 1% moving to Mars and having the rest of humanity suffer Earth’s fiery demise on the track “Mars For The Rich.” Another interesting track is “Superbug,” narrating the effects of an unstoppable disease spreading rampant due to our overuse of pharmaceuticals and over-reliance on them. 

Adding to the theme of abrasiveness is the beautifully morbid choice of track titles such as “Self-Immolate” or my favorite, “Organ Farmer.” These titles serve as a way to illustrate the world in a stark view, almost as if it was pulled straight from an H.P Lovecraft novel. 

Collectively, these albums all share one goal: raising awareness to this issue of climate change. Whether it be by making a sonic statement, illustrating the actual practices that we humans use and in turn destroy the world, or giving us the proverbial wake-up call by telling the story of an invincible super-virus.

   All these albums accomplish the same goal, just with different, fantastic methods of execution. All should be appreciated. Hopefully, they help us take a look at ourselves and help us self-reflect on how we care for the environment around us.