By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer
Local reggae band Generous Thieves released their EP, The Severity of Where We’re Going, on October 15, 2021. The three band members, Sugah Candiah, Andrew Conroy, and Devon Martin, have been working together since May 2021. While the three intended to collaborate only once, they were drawn to continuing to make music together.
I admit, I don’t listen to reggae very much. But the striking title of their EP caught my attention: what is the severity the artists are referring to? As you listen, the instrumentals are lighthearted and rock you in smooth beats. The opening song, “Morning Light,” envelops the listener with thumping bass lines while introducing the band members.
But shortly after introducing themselves, the EP’s lyrics weigh heavier, lingering with the listener long after the songs have finished. The lyricism feels as striking and powerful as their title. Something that stuck with me in one of their other songs, “Flick a Match,” are the lines, “People striking back like thunder and lightning / If everything works there’s no reason to change / A system that works, confusing and strange.” This evokes themes of resistance — people fighting against a failing system that oppresses them through poverty and other forms of inequity.
In an email interview with The Peak, Conroy said, “The track ‘Flick a Match’ describes the racial inequality we’ve seen for so long in Canada and abroad.” The EP focuses on justice for all. Their lyrics are specific enough to pick apart issues related to Vancouver too, taking a closer look at things like stagnant wages and the local punk scene.
The song “Sleep” is a prime example. It’s quite an upbeat song, with groovy chords that get you swaying. The vocalist, Candiah, wistfully sings, “He don’t want to sleep / He just wants to dream.”
“‘Sleep’ was written about Todd Serious, a Vancouver-area musician and activist who passed away in 2015,” Conroy said. Serious was the frontman of the punk band The Rebel Spell, and was passionate about activism surrounding affordable housing, climate change, homelessness, and the opioid crisis.
“Sleep” commemorates Serious’ legacy to punk rock, saying, “He wants a beautiful future, it can’t just be him / The tide’s getting closer, now it’s our time to swim.”
In just five songs, Generous Thieves masterfully delivers a commentary on racial injustice and the housing crisis. Their first reggae album is both relaxing and hard-hitting punk wrapped into one very cohesive package. Indeed, they reveal the severity of where they are going by building on the past and the people that have walked the path before them.