Four Tet produces the Swedish artist's topical fifth LP.
The scope of Broken Politics takes in both our outward political moment as well as its effects on our interior life. The music that accompanies her has an equally wide scope. She again taps Four Tet for production duties—he also produced Blank Project. His dulcet harps and shuffling snares make "Fallen Leaves" feel all the more poignant. Its melancholic line, "Just because I'm down / Don't step all over me," is dejected yet also defiant, recalling the warning of the Gadsden flag.
On the dusty and despondent dub of "Kong," coproduced by Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Cherry reaches to her past. Cherry and De Naja go back to their days in the Wild Bunch, the Bristol group responsible for the playful 1987 B-side of Jamie J. Morgan and Cameron McVey's "Looking Good Diving." (Her rapping on that track would morph into her breakout song, "Buffalo Stance," within the year.) "Kong" retains the claustrophobic dread of the best Massive Attack tracks, as Cherry sings of "shattered illusions" and "no solutions," yet still finds that glint of hope, that "... my world will always be / Another risk worth taking."
Only the anti-gun message of "Shot Gun Shack" feels too on-the-nose. The album otherwise is loose and natural, more about being in the moment than presenting something carefully crafted. "Cheap Breakfast Special" is a minute of chatter at a diner. The piano ballad "Synchronised Devotion" is accompanied by poignant vibraphone by Karl Berger, the legendary jazz player who collaborated often with Cherry's stepfather, Don Cherry.
Ruptures abound on the LP, like the sirens that break into the steel pan breakbeats of "Natural Skin Deep," not to mention the synth squiggles and jazz group that also interrupt the song. It's a busy, tumultuous and joyous highlight, yet one of Cherry's lines—"my love goes on and on"—fights to stay above the noise. At a time when it takes almost all your energy just to keep your head above the constant flood of bad news, it's a message worth keeping close to your heart.