The riot kicks off with a raucous instrumental on “Guided Hesitation”, accompanied by the tongue-in-cheek monologue from frontman Don Bird. Inspired by Yuval Harari’s book Sapiens, the lyrics are a perfect introduction to the band’s unabashed take on politics and existence – something that stands firm throughout the record. “Factory Fool” and “Individualism”, for instance, see Bird taking the education system to task, warning you not to “lose your heart” while jumping through society’s endless hoops. “The pressure that is put on young people to find their individualism within a framework that is completely set out for them is very damaging,” drummer Joe Walker has explained. “It’s crippling.”
The energy of the album’s first act comes screeching to a near halt on the titular “We”, an acoustic memorial to guitarist Alex Deadman’s late father. The song provides a striking moment of intimacy nestled amongst all the angst; “We’re actually all quite sensitive,” Deadman admits, “and are trying to be as vulnerable as possible.” The pace does swiftly pick back up again, though, and doesn’t pause for breath until the closing “Say a Lil Something”. The song’s highlight is its guitar riff; instrumentals across the album are consistently great, but truly hit their peak here and on the bridge of “Karma”. While the amped-up British accent makes Bird’s vocals endearing, the lyrics often teeter towards being too on-the-nose and feel occasionally clumsy. However, this is when their instrumental strength really shines.
By far, the most exciting thing about this album is how it will translate into live shows. A punk band through and through, it’s easy to imagine Lady Bird finding even greater highs with these tracks when they’re in front of a live crowd, and when all that matters is the energy and passion – two things they are far from lacking on WE.