Sånt Är Livet – Vänsternäven
This record was released in November of 2021 and is the bands third full-length album (what I know of at least). The band comes from the city Skövde in Sweden, a city where I lived for a very short period of time a long time ago. Vänsternäven plays fast and energetic punk rock, often short songs with a heavily political message. For this one I’m going to do a track-by-track run-down. I don’t do that often and thought it would be fun to try for this one. If you don’t want the long story you can hop down to the conclusion in the last paragraph. (And yes, I’ve decided to write it in English despite it being a record in Swedish, I’m sticking to one language on this site.)
The album kicks of in style with the song “Billingehus”. Melodic an energetic as I expected from these guys, it’s a great start to the album. For those who doesn’t know, Billingehus is a conference facility on top of the “mountain” Billingen. For a while it was about to become a living-facility for refugees, but to my knowledge the right-wing parties in the city was against this. As of now it’s a hotel and conference-facility in close proximity to sports and nature activities. The lyrics about the song handles the decision of the political parties, on the right-wing, regarding the facility. It’s a good song, the only problem might be that the theme is so local and can be hard to relate to for someone coming from another region.
Moving on to the track “Bogrensbrudar”, a track about girls who frequent the nightclub Bogrens in Skövde. As mentioned above, I spent a short stint in this town, and I have been to this club. Same as the bands opinion, it wasn’t my kind of scene or my kind of clientele. So the lyrics here is about how awful the girls going to that place is. It’s one of the catchier songs on the album, but after listening to it a lot, I can’t shake a small incel-vibe in the lyrics. This band is by far not about political correctness, but I feel that this song punches in the wrong direction. I have no problem with songs criticizing the political establishment, racists, capitalists or such, but when we use a platform to direct that energy towards insecure 18-22 year old girls, we are a bit off in my eyes. I might read too much into it, or maybe it’s because I have two younger sisters, but it started rubbing me the wrong way after a while.
The third track, “Ingen vet vart du står”, is about shifty people who changes their opinions on things to fit the situation they are in. This could be applied to politicians as well as regular people. Great and universally relatable lyrics and a catchy melodic chorus that sticks.
“Du har aldrig existerat”, the fourth track, is about speaking up about your opinions and feelings. If you don’t say what you think or feel, have you even existed and what is life worth then. A good melodic base, a catchy chorus and overall solid writing on this one.
“Förtryck och slaveri” is a working class themed track, slaving away and not getting noticed by anyone. Time and life is passing by, and for what. We continue with the catchy choruses and short energetic tracks and the first half of this record is good throughout, with solid writing, with a few exceptions, and good melodies.
“Bödeln” is a song about propaganda from the far right parties in Sweden, and how this creates “executioners” and fundamentalists in the population who then goes out in society and do shitty things to other people. The lyrics catches the political and societal landscape in Sweden the last decade in a good way, and now we’re punching in a better direction. It’s a little bit slower, in this bands context, song but it still has a nice energy in it.
In “Två meter kort” we go back to the local politics. I don’t have the full context myself, and therefore I’m not fully sure what we are criticizing here. It’s about sports and how the local politics decisions affects the inhabitants and kids who wanna play sports and go to matches. Considering when this album was written, there could be a Covid-angle here. Keep in mind that this is my interpretation of the song. And this might be the problem with some of the lyrics on this album, if you don’t have the local context it can be hard to know what to make of them, which might be more of a problem in the first two tracks on the album. But still, a short and catchy as hell track.
Now we get two similar themed tracks in “Jag lär mig aldrig” and “Cellen 2”. Drinking and partying on the weekends are the themes here. The first of them being about going from party to party, getting way too drunk and feeling like shit the day after. We’ve all been there and we all have done it again and again despite telling ourselves never to do it again. The other track is more about the short term consequences, being put in incarceration overnight to sober up, without really having done anything wrong. Both tracks should be taken for what they are, songs about drinking with friends on the all too short weekends before you have to go back to your job on Monday.
Closing the album is the title-track “Sånt är livet”, a working classed themed song about being out of a job, perhaps because of the factory closing, and being stamped as a worthless piece of shit by the politicians on the right. This is more of universally relatable lyrics. It’s a good closer and fits the rest of the album well.
In conclusion, this album is well put together, all songs fitting the general theme of the album and what one can expect from this band considering their previous records. Clocking in at around 15 minutes on 10 tracks, it’s a short burst of angry energy that’s still melodic and catchy throughout. Some of the lyrics can be hard to relate to if you don’t have the local context, perhaps most a problem in the first two tracks. But all in all, a solid release that you should pick up if you like the band, or if you’re a fan of political but melodic punk in Swedish. As of now you can find it on Spotify, with a cd an vinyl release coming later this year on Kamel Records that you can pre-order at Tidens Tempo.