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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘What We’re Up Against’ By Worriers

Lauren Denitzio has long been a master of lived-in, personal-political songwriting. With Worriers, Denitzio creates melodic punk songs that weave stories and lessons out of hard-fought feminist wisdom. The stories are sometimes told through wordy, double-time sweet-sung verse, sometimes with a gruff deadpan that sounds weary but never cynical.

Worriers songs infrequently tackle the intricacies of capital-p politics. More often they reflect what happens to people emotionally because of sociopolitical environments: the way relationships strain under the weight of capitalism, how anxiety exacerbates isolation, and the problem with binaries.

That type of context has only bolstered the urgency of songs like 2015’s anthemic anti-police brutality “Yes All Cops” (“Sometimes silence is a loaded gun / in the hands of all of us,” goes a chorus that stares you straight in the eye) and “They / Them / Theirs,” a reflection on non-binary identity (“What if I don’t want something that applies to me / What if there’s no better word than just not saying anything, anything”).

Denitzio said their most recent album Survival Pop was written while considering what types of songs their younger self would need. Listening to its punk rock poetry, one gets the sense that they might have revisited old diaries for this one, spending time in past lives to make sense of what was and what is and what could be.

Songs like “Self Esteemed” and “No Thanks” offer time and perspective on a radical picture book of navigating your twenties: leaving the group house, losing touch with friends, remembering the unrealized possibilities—and the people who didn’t believe in you, too—while recognizing it is okay now.

“What We’re Up Against,” the album’s fifth track and most potent protest song, is planted right in the present. It’s one of the most rough-edged cuts on the record, an urgent response to 2017.

“They’ve got bigger flags, they’ve got bigger bombs, but through all the noise, there’s still more of us,” Denitzio sings with urgency over a raw, pointillist punk riff.

When the pummeling chorus comes around again (“Wait for history to count to ten then you can get us, come and get me / No one’s waiting for this nightmare to end before we pick up, swing back, refuse what we’re up against”), the album is less than halfway through but already living up to its title, Survival Pop.

Listen to “What We’re Up Against”:

Liz Pelly

Liz Pelly