Equals is The Alarm's first mainstream album release since 2010's Direct Action, a barnstorming collection of 11 songs that act as a retrenchment of old values and a poignant reflection of the tough times Mike Peters and his wife Jules have been through in recent years. Having recovered from lymph cancer in 1996, Mike was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in 2005 and, after an initial recovery, he suffered a relapse in 2015. To compound an already terrifying situation, Jules, who plays piano and sings backing vocals, was diagnosed with breast cancer just after. All band activity was put on hold as the pair underwent treatment and it is only now, with both in remission, that The Alarm are firing on all cylinders again.
The emotional repercussions, though, are all too evident in the spirit of life-affirming optimism in the face of adversity that runs through Equals "The songs were built out of what I had become," says Mike. "I learnt a lot about myself and my relationship with Jules, and it's all there in the music. I didn't set out to write about what we were going through. All I had were these incredibly strong feelings that I found myself putting into words and writing down onto my phone without even thinking they might form the basis for songs."
Produced by George Williams (who previously worked on 2005's Under Attack and on the Blood Red Viral Black sessions), Equals features all new recordings and mixes that were created in 2018 and opens with the torrent of epic rock numbers "Two Rivers" and "Beautiful," which see Peters singing about coming to terms with the past before moving on to enjoy life to the fullest. Joined by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros drummer Smiley and guitarist James Stevenson, this new album encompasses twin harmony guitars, pounding drums and electronic layering, while guest guitarist Billy Duffy (The Cult) helps Peters and Stevenson blend acoustic and electric sounds on "Coming Backwards."