Gang Of Four, "Content"

Thirty-three years after the release of the single "Damaged Goods" and almost 16 since its last studio album, this legendary post-punk group fit into 2011 a lot better than we-or they-might have any reason to expect. Today's audiences have been primed for Gang of Four's snarling groove by such devotees as Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and any number of DFA-affiliated groups. And their strident lyrics-which were always more about consumerism than politics-find fertile, self-referential ground in the conundrum of today's musician, as reflected in this album's ironic title and a choice lyric from the song "Who Am I?": "You can't steal when everything's free." While the band members don't really break new ground on "Content," they seldom repeat themselves or sound dated, either. And of course, Andy Gill's jagged, often-imitated-but-never-equaled guitar playing sounds glorious in almost any context; he's truly one of the most underrated musicians of his era. Longtime fans might raise an eyebrow at the band's songs appearing in a videogame and Microsoft ad, but commercialism remains a part of Gang of Four's lyrics more than its sound.

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