Colour me impressed. New York trio The Last Internationale may have only formed last year but in that time they’ve built a strong reputation with a particularly fierce brand of protest music. We Will Reign is their debut full-length and it certainly lives up to that reputation. The instant that the drums come crashing in on opening track Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood the album grabs a listener’s attention and doesn’t let go. Lead vocalist Delila Paz’s delivery is nothing if not passionate, every word dripping with conviction as she sings about systems of oppression. Edgey Pires’ guitar work is also impressive, putting out a strong solo that complements the song perfectly. It’s hard to see how the band could possibly follow up such an intense opener.
The title track sounds slightly slower and quieter but no less furious, despite featuring a swaggering groove that would otherwise suggest the band is too cool for righteous anger. Battleground lightens up a little more but still thrives thanks to Paz’s soulful vocals. Killing Fields recaptures the edge of the opening track and makes for another loud, impressive and emotional number. Wanted Man starts off with a simple guitar strumming and Paz singing, then adds in more instrumentation to make for a song that balances twangy Western-sounding guitars with an extremely catchy and danceable rhythm section. It’s definitely a stand-out track and quite possibly the best track on the album.
After that, the album loses it momentum a bit as it segues into a handful of lighter numbers. These suffer more from track sequencing than any major musical flaws – if they were spread out, they might have worked better, but bunching them together seems like a mistake. Baby It’s You sounds especially soft and its lovelorn lyrics make for a jarring shift from the previous tracks’ caustic takes on both the personal and the political. As a stand-alone number, it’s decent, but in the context of the album as a whole it doesn’t seem to work. Devil’s Dust is a working-class acoustic number about the various problems posed by working in a mine and marks a strong return to the band’s socially conscious side.
I’ll Be Alright offers a different take on doomed romance to Baby It’s You, where Paz’s narrator is optimistic about her break-up rather than pessimistic. It’s yet another decent number but not especially impressive. Fire lives up to its title with a return to the band’s more powerful, purposeful sound as it stomps and growls through a song that’s thematically very similar to the previous numbers. Closing number 1968 makes for a rousing finish to the album with sharp music and an acid-tongued Paz singing about revolution.
The Last Internationale were making some serious waves even before the release of We Will Reign and it seems like those waves are only going to get bigger once the album hits shelves. Though the softer songs in the second half of the album initially threaten to derail the album, this trio has enough confidence and talent to power through and make for one very impressive debut packed with songs that bleed excellence. If this album is any indication of their future, they will definitely reign.