This record is probably one of the best crust Ep to come out of Britain in the 90's. As emphatic as this statement might read, this is actually true. Unfortunately, I have little information about Lardarse (terrible name by the way...). They were from Nottingham at a time when there were quite a few good punk bands, labels and gigs. This Ep was released by Weird Records, a label usually keener on putting out snotty punk-rock (Dogshit Sandwich, Pissed Mouthy Trollops, Red Flag 77, MDM...) than heavy crust-punk. I have no idea who Lardarse were. Was it just a young juvenile band that only did the one record and vanished? Or was it a side-project of some old-timers of the anarcho scene? Although the latter seems more likely, it doesn't really matter in the end, since either way this "Armchair apathy" Ep is just fantastic.
Musically, the band is the ultimate blend of early Doom (up until "The greatest invention") and Dirt. It is not as straight up as Doom since the songs are longer and have more complex structures (relatively speaking of course), but it is much heavier and harder-hitting than Dirt. So why the comparison then? Well, Lardarse's male singer sounds just like Jon Doom and the female singer could have won a Deno Dirt imitation contest. And it works perfectly. It has the impact and raw anger of Doom coupled with the snottiness and aggression of Dirt. And it is not all out fast all the time either as the faster parts blends with crushing mid-tempo moments that are not unlike Saw Throat. On the whole, the production is quite close to early (good) Doom recordings too, the bass and guitar sound are heavy, but in a dirty and yet flowing way, so that everything really shapes a groovy and cohesive whole. Imagine a more 80's inspired Jobbykrust with gruffier male vocals, some Sarcasm and Hiatus influences and this kind of 90's European crust energy. Or don't imagine anything and just give it a listen. It might be more practical.
Lyrically and aesthetically, Lardarse was definitely a political animal. On the backcover, a long quote from Proudhon about being governed sets the stage. The songs themselves are not really articulate rants, but instead they use very direct words, slang words even, to reflect the daily frustration and anger at the system. They are followed by more sophisticated explanations providing some socio-political context and Lardarse clearly gave some actual thought about their lyrics. The first one, "Slave", is also my favourite and as it is, yes you guessed it, an anti-work song. Not only does the song call the wage labour system by its real name - modern slavery - but it also calls for sabotage, solidarity and class actions in the workplace against "directors and unions (who) don't give a toss, it's your head on the line when they make a loss". "Blank" is about alcohol consumption and how us punks use it to forget the drudgery of life. It is one thing to have some fun but quite an other being a mess all the time and therefore as harmless and confused as the sytem wants us to be. "PR 24" is about a law that gives more power to the pigs with better weaponry, technology and overall more funds to them. Finally "Doomed youth" is a war song (well it is crust punk after all) that focuses on how capitalism fuels wars and how its wars are horrendous, horrendously horrendous even.
I really enjoy Lardarse's lyrics because they are straight-forward but smart. And the band wasn't without a sense of humour either as there is also a disclaimer included that says that the members of Lardarse all "hold down prosperous and secure jobs in the city" and "when Lardarse next come to your town, don't expect a nite of anarcho mayhem, just some sound honest financial advice". On a more serious tone, the band provided an address list of worthy organizations to support like the ABC, the IWW, Reclaim the Streets or the AFA.
Seriously, what's not to love with this record?