Regardless of whether or not the state of the world would had improved since their 2000 record, it's almost certain that Propagandhi would have found something to rally against for their fourth studio album. But the mid-2000s were very far from perfect, and with all of the era's questionable politics and injustices, it's no wonder Potemkin City Limits finds Propagandhi as outraged as ever.
Even the album title makes a statement, as politically a Potemkin village generally alludes to a false construct that hides an unattractive situation. References like this start with the title, continue into provocative quotes and commentary in the liner notes, and then absolutely overwhelm the lyrics. So unless you simply enjoy the sheer passion behind the band's delivery, you better be up to speed on turn of the millennium politics to really understand the fuel of each song. (Don't worry, though, the guys thoughtfully include a plethora of reading material inside to help you along.)
And though Propagandhi's past humor seems to be completely gone and replaced with raw anger and bitterness, the band still has plenty to say. Nothing is safe from their outrage, from military recruitment ("America's Army (Die Jugend Marschiert)") to hypocritical musicians ("Rock for Sustainable Capitalism") to war profiteers finally being held responsible for their actions ("Iteration"). Sentiments concerning the war in Iraq can be heard on "Name and Address Withheld" and "Fedallah's Horse," while a cold war between the U.S. and Canada is hypothesized in the lead track, "A Speculative Fiction." The frustration and disillusionment that seemed to be settling in throughout their last effort, Today's Empire, Tomorrow's Ashes, develops further within the angry constructs of Potemkin City Limits.
Their message, however, comes across as no less focused or urgent because of it. On the contrary, the songs seem all the more pressing as performed with the weary energy of a defiant band fighting the good fight for almost two decades. Do the band a favor -- read up on world events and take a stand. Propagandhi can't continue carrying the banner alone forever.