At the end of the week, Bad Moves are releasing their sophomore album, Untenable (digitally at least). The album was supposed to come out last month, but got pushed back due to pandemic concerns, which means we’ve heard a nice chunk of singles: “Party With The Kids Who Want To Party With You,” “End Of Time,” and “Cape Henlopen.”
Today we’re getting one more, the precarious labor anthem “Working For Free.” Bad Moves package their capital critique in an energetic and bouncy group chant: “You get it, you want it, you take it, you got it/ The value, the labor, the profit, the product.” Here’s a statement from the band about the song:
“Working For Free” is a song about precarious work. The lyrics are located within moments of extreme stress and humiliation experienced while working in the food service industry. There’s a focused anger around injustices inherent to the tipped wage system, but that anger extends to all the systemic ways the reproduction of wealth depends on free and underpaid labor.
Though the song was written before the pandemic, the precarity described is now more glaring than ever. The service workers whose industries have shut down are also the people expected to bear the brunt of exposure risk as economies reopen. Especially for undocumented workers who haven’t had access to unemployment benefits, there is little recourse to financial stability. Of course, on an individual level, a virus doesn’t care who you are, and will wreck your life indiscriminately if it finds you. But in the aggregate, widespread hardship amplifies existing inequality. The groups with less money, security and social capital are always going to fare worse.
Untenable is out 6/26 (digital) and 7/3 (physical) on Don Giovanni Records. Pre-order it here.