REVIEW: BILLIONAIRE, Cheap Credit!

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Cheap Credit!, the new release by BILLIONARE, is an interestingly satirical commentary on the current state of our consciousness as a society. The album follows 2015’s Fine Minds LP and is out via Blue Mary Records today (31st March).

John Sterry has already crossed off being frontman to the legendary punk rock band Gang of Four from his bucket list. Starting off as a session singer assisting GO4’s Andy Gill after the departure of original band member Jon King, Sterry embodied just the right amount of punk-swagger to convince Gill to try out a “semi-secret show” with him as lead-singer. Said Gill in a 2015 interview with The Current: “The more I worked with him, the more I thought ‘He’s rather good, isn’t he?… He’s got it.’” The newly fronted band went on to record the album What Happens Next and is still planning future tours.

BILLIONAIRE’s earlier ventures include Gaoler’s Daughter, an undertaking embarked upon when he was but a metaphorical musical foetus. Composed of members from various other London-based acts, the band played tour dates with Babyshambles, Graham Coxon, and We Are Scientists, while releasing their fan-funded debut album How To Make Time. Their second and final album Split Like Cells released in 2013, is said to document the band’s break-up, an event that in retrospect, played a role leading to the path of much greater things.

“Reasons To Be Fearful”, the first single to be released from Cheap Credit! is a musing on how a generation has become disenfranchised by the rhetoric of social conditioning so deeply ingrained in us, that we don’t even question whether it applies to us reasonably anymore. Lyrics such as “You’re vitamin D deficient, but don’t you dare get a tan” reflect the deficiencies and inadequacies in our culture; and poke fun at our fixation on political correctness and skin-deep sweet nothings, in place of visceral human experience which sometimes includes “getting burned.”

“The World Loves a Trier” is a retort to our collective struggle in pursuit of “achievement.” It’s a derisive observation, one that follows the dehumanising consequence of our obsession with ambition. “This song is just a response to all those people who say ‘work hard and you’ll achieve your dreams,’” Sterry told Consequence of Sound. “I mean that’s really easy to say for someone who’s already achieved their dreams. But they have to say that don’t they? They can’t say ‘get lucky and achieve your dreams.’ I’m not saying everyone who is successful is just lucky, but there might have been a lot of luck involved. In the same way you might try really hard and not achieve anything!”

There are lyrical echoes of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, combined with a poppy irony that almost spits in the face of contemporary musicality. Self-described as “low fi-alt pop,” this exemplification doesn’t quite do his mordantly witty lyrical content enough justice, and after listening to this offering, one can’t help but feel that there is something else brooding deep in the obscure recesses of John Sterry’s mind, as if he knows something the rest of us don’t, something that is quietly simmering away, and will boil over any second – giving us all a reason to be fearful.

Watch the video for “Reasons To Be Fearful” below: