The Cops are pissed, and rightfully so. Orwellian swine clog the White House. Fear and depravity run amok on prime time. Citizens are color-coded red or blue. And like the Clash before them, the Cops point fingers at the antagonists with lip-curled sneers and power chords.

On their first full-length, Get Good or Stay Bad, the Seattle punk quartet deliver their state of the union in a natural extension of late-'70s British punk. Though their guitars are tuned to 1977 London, their message is for our country today.

"We formed and wrote a lot of those songs during the period of the election last year," says Cops guitarist John Randolph. "It was probably a subconscious influence. I mean, we're at war right now and that influences all of our lives and..."

"Makes us angry!" pipes in drummer David Weeks.

Formed after the dissipation of singer Mike Jaworski and Randolph's power pop group Hello From Waveland, the pair enlisted Weeks (former Kinski) and bassist Brian Wall. Holing up in Randolph's basement, the Cops clicked almost instantly, writing 11 songs in three months.

"From the start of the band, the songwriting just happened," says Jaworski. "It was a very fluid process. There were always a lot of ideas being tossed around. It [was] exciting [how] we worked so well together creatively and there was just a brand new energy there."

After playing their very first show in October of last year opening for the Walkmen, the Cops wasted no time in releasing their debut EP, Why Kids Go Wrong, in November on Jaworski's Mt. Fuji label. Since then, they've gigged relentlessly around the country with bands like the Kills and the Hold Steady.

Recorded this past summer, Get Good or Stay Bad was co-produced by Fastbacks founder Kurt Bloch, who helped snare the band's raw power onto half-inch, eight-track, reel-to-reel tape.

"We've known Kurt for a long time," says Jaworski. "John and I both work at the Sunset and he's played there. Of course, we're all big fans of his previous projects. The Fastbacks were just such a great part of Seattle's music scene for so many years. And Kurt's absolutely one of the most wonderful people I've ever met."

"I think in part he's a performer himself," says Randolph. "And we wanted to capture on the record just a really great live performance."

"We all agreed that it should be untampered with," says Bloch of the recording. "Just as the songs are played live. There are no extra guitar parts, or doubled anything... just get to the point! Make it simple, direct, and loud!"

And so it is. The Cops march straight into battle with "Negative Cutting," an antiwar screamer in which Weeks's drumming echoes cannon fire and Jaworski approaches Joe Strummer's sing-shout shifts. "Controller" is a hybrid of Wire's danceable post-punk and Fugazi's hardcore/funk marriage, as is "We Are the Occupants" with its Devo-flavored commentary: "We are the occupants/We eat and shit and we make waste." Album centerpiece "T.V. Lieyes" (a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Stooges) is full of such galvanizing prods as "I see it on the TV every night/We're all just waiting for, waiting for someone to die."

But Get Good isn't burdened by the topical. Throwaway track "Don't Take It Personal Dave" is English-punk fun and "Invisible City" veers off into stoner-dub territory. Not to mention Randolph's classic rock riffing, which raises the Cops above your standard political punk fare.

"We're not over-the-top political or preachy in our songs," says Jaworski. "But I think it's important for us to raise questions and make people think about the current state of affairs."

"I think the Cops are a bit unique in the Seattle rock world," adds Bloch. "Far from shoegazer and far from the grunge/metal thing. [It's] as if they came out of the same garage that the Clash emerged from... say that garage hadn't had any bands practicing in it for 28 years or so. And it might be just a little smellier than it was in 1977. All the equipment, of course, is different. But maybe it's the same PA from back in the day. You know, one foot in the old garage, one foot in the future... but still very pissed off!"