• Charlotte Hardman

LOUDER FEATURES: Did this 00s album PREDICT 2020?!

2020 has felt like something straight out of a science fiction horror story. From a global pandemic that has killed over a million people worldwide; to the mass protests in support of Black Lives Matter; and one of the closest American elections for decades which is embroiled in accusations of voter manipulation and suppression, the dystopian landscape we live in is great inspiration for art – just not great to be living in! However, all this could have been prevented, had anybody realised that an obscure album from the early 2000s predicted all the woe that would befall us this year…

The Network are a mysterious six-piece, who claim they were brought together ‘by an ancient prophecy’. Their one and only album, prophetically titled ‘Money Money 2020’, is a screaming whirlwind of synthesisers, wailing guitars and unsullied vocals that indulges in high flying self-gratification, undercut with pertinent social commentary. Diving deeper into the record, however, and with the benefit of hindsight, the parallels between 2020’s catastrophes and the tracks’ lyrics are profound… and a little unnerving!

The title of the record speaks for itself; for many, this year has been all about money. From the government’s furlough scheme attempting to keep the country’s economy afloat, to the scandal over the £900,000 renovation of a jet in the royal fleet, cash and its importance in our lives has never been more profound. The strain that the pandemic has placed on businesses large and small has been immense, and something that some may sadly never recover from.

While this pandemic has proven that community and togetherness does go a long way towards making the world go round, it has also highlighted that money – or lack thereof – can have a far greater impact on all of our lives than even those of us who are used to feeling the pinch may have ever realised before. So yeah, ‘Money Money 2020’ pretty much hit the nail on the head!

Yet, it is not just this album’s freakishly accurate title that makes its predictive nature so eerie. Buried within the lyrics of its 12 exuberant, hedonistic, and sometimes downright disturbing songs are countless references to the impact that social isolation and technology use has had on our society.

The opening tracks, ‘Joe Robot’ and ‘Transistors Gone Wild’ both speak of the introduction of artificial intelligence to our society – for better, or worse. The former contains a shrewd warning of ‘Is it a Trojan Horse, or is it a friend?’, demonstrating the fear surrounding replacing human interaction with connection through technology. That being said, the possible connection between humans becoming robotic and the many swirling conspiracy theories surrounding a potential coronavirus vaccine are a little too outlandish, even for a band sporting outfits straight from the charity shop bargain bin! In the latter track, the line ‘Am I alive or fantasy?’ seems to reflect perfectly how many of us have felt this year – how long has it been since March? Six hours or six years? The track’s innate desire for an uprising also mimics the protests which took place in support of Black Lives Matter this year – a sense of a profound anger finally breaking into defiance.

While the hedonistic junkie days of the likes of ‘Spike’ may have been brought crashing down this year, never fear, for The Network have a solution – cyber-sex! Replacing human physical contact with online couplings features on several tracks across the record: from ‘Reto’s debauched ramblings; to the seductive fem-bots of ‘Supermodel Robots’; and the shameful delights of ‘Right Hand-A-Rama’ – which, without making too fine a point of it, is a position many found themselves in without a partner in their household bubble!

When not contemplating their bodily frustrations, many people were given the time to ruminate, giving life to a whole new subset of internet scientists. The method used to combat such conspiracies by the powers that be has been to keep it simple. Very 2003-era language choices non-withstanding, this hyper-simplification of complex concepts on ‘Spastic Society’ has been a key theme of this year. From three-step slogans to three-tier lockdown systems, attempting to make things as simple and direct as possible was seen as the only way to ensure everyone understood the gravity of the pandemic. Was this simple, if slightly patronising messaging helpful, or just alienating and patronising? That remains to be seen, but the ‘dumbing down’ of the world by the powers that be has certainly echoed across the decades.

Despite this, we have still had many a conspiracy theory arise this year to keep life interesting! ‘Roshambo’s opening line ‘I don’t believe in the apocalypse’ illustrates how outright denial has been the only way some people could cope with how their world has changed this year. And, for the real far-reachers out there when it comes to conspiracy theories, well ‘X-Ray Hamburgers’ was written for you! While this year has (so far, at least!) spared us an apocalypse of man-eating meat products, the primary theory of the origin of the novel coronavirus is that it originated from animal meat, which was transferred to humans through consumption. So it does seem somewhat poetic that the meat we have eaten is now biting us back with this horrific illness – a less direct form of attack, it’s true, but after this year, who knows what could happen next?

Indeed, this year has had one more Network-shaped surprise for us – after 17 years, the band have made an unexpected return! Their new single ‘Ivankkka Is A Nazi’ continues the band’s hallmark of eerily profound social commentary, and is just as unhinged, rambunctious and horrifying as ever! While I still have my tinfoil hat on, you can’t help but wonder whether this entire year’s catastrophes could all have been a clever marketing ploy by this prophetic trio… spooky, eh?

Check out The Network's new single, 'Ivankkka Is A Nazi', here:

Stream the entirety of 'Money Money 2020' below too:

The band have also been dropping some totally-not-satirical life updates recently on their Instagram...