The problem with too much political art is that it relies on you already agreeing with the statement it’s making in order for you to appreciate the art itself. Either overly bellicose or overly self-satisfied, it loses force through the expectation of preordained sympathy. By contrast, successful political art foregrounds the artistry while making a statement that isn’t just applicable for a limited time. “White Lies/All My Fault,” the new split single from Houston-based band The Wheel Workers—premiering exclusively at The A.V. Club—may be a pair of songs aimed straight at Donald Trump and the 2016 election, but musically and lyrically, it extends far beyond the political heat of the moment. The first track, a Devo-like jittery rave-up of angular riffs and vocals spit out with bile, rails against the ease with which falsity is taken for truth, while the fluid and downbeat melodies of “All My Fault” call out the “hateful clown” of a candidate explicitly, but spreads to a broader self-indictment of the culture that spawned him.
“Lyrically, both songs are inspired by the current presidential election. Frankly, I am horrified by the rise of Trump and what he represents. To me, we are seeing the rise of a white nationalist movement into the mainstream with elements that are all too similar to the European fascist movements of the 1930’s,” songwriter and lyricist Steven Higginbotham says. “Whatever Clinton’s faults, she is a pretty standard Democrat, whereas Trump represents a leap into the darkness of bigotry, violence, and cult of personality politics that is antithetical to a democratic society. The fact that Trump stands a chance in the election is the most disturbing development in American politics in a very long time.” Both songs evoke this disturbed mindset with gusto. The group’s latest album, Citizens, is available now.