Screenshot from video for Plexbit by Lobster

West Midlands ska has a noble, longstanding tradition of political comment and it seems like Lobster are the next link in that chain. If you couldn’t give a toss about politics… Wait! Come back! Let’s deal with the music first, and I’m sure you’ll want to give this a spin anyway. Because the great thing about using ska for political comment is: if you just want to forget about the state of the world for a short while, you can simply ignore the lyrics and dance all over your problems instead.

“Plexbit” doesn’t have the frantic pace of UK ska-revival, it leans more to the steady lope of classic late 60s ska, but the song has a distinct 21st Century flavour. It starts with melodic brass washed in reverb, with a West African feel to the rhythm while a nasty synth buzzes like an angry wasp. All this tension finally releases to a lone voice chanting how: “MPs gotta hustle / Make some Ps in the struggle”, then the loping ska rhythm drops, pushed along by a great rolling piano figure. The song loves dubby reverb and if you crank it up, it reveals a big bass sound, but nevertheless “Plexbit” is mixed with an airy lightness that reminds me of The Specials’ 2019 single “Vote For Me”.

The lyric video is a witty and well executed animation, where the lyrics flash by, framed by the tattered border of a union jack. A silhouetted running man (think the “Green Man” that kids are told to watch out for on pedestrian crossings) wearing a tie that marks it out as a bureaucrat/official type, is a recurring motif. It appears in various states; flogging contracts, being revealed as a rat, and eventually getting chased by lobster claws (naturally). This is all animated with real wit and brio and overlaid with the grainy feel of a newspaper. In the middle section of the song, Lobster openly align themselves to the tradition of political West Midlands ska when they sing: “Stand down Andrew! Stand down!” I think we all know which Andrew they’re referring to, and it just feels good to have a distillation of that particular public opinion articulated and “out there” somewhere. Someone’s got to say it, and Lobster have. The phrase they use echoes The Beat’s 1982 song “Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and discover The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat.

If you don’t care for the words, they’ll still move your dancing feet. The song gains in momentum and intensity as it progresses with the vocal becoming increasingly breathless. It finishes with a rattling final verse of toasting, angrily decrying the policies of successive governments regarding their willingness to cut public services, yet their unwillingness to chase after the tax evaders. A nicely fuzzy, scuzzy guitar solo drives the song to its end, and in the video the fleeing official knocks over Big Ben in its haste to escape. The Specials would approve, I’m sure. And I do too.

By: Eastside Jimmy

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