1 November 2016

letlive. - If I'm The Devil....

This is a look at the fourth studio album from Los Angeles, California Post-Hardcore punk act letlive., a band who have been going since 2002 and have toured with acts such as Your Demise, Rise Against, A Day to Remember, Enter Shikari, Architects, Underoath, Every Time I Die, Deftones and Bring Me the Horizon. Currently as I write this, they are on tour with Pierce the Veil and Creeper.  I am not the biggest fan to be honest, their last album 'The Blackest Beautiful' did not float my boat and I was just going to pass this one by.  However, I've been asked for my opinion on this band by a few people.  Not too sure how this will help the band, but I am prepared to give it another go - let us see if the Devil is in the detail here....

01 - I've Learned to Love Myself

Starting of the album with an industrial flavoured opening, a synth laden song that sounds like it is aiming for bright lights and tries to ingrain the drama from the opening moments of this record.  It does have that sense of anticipation and it is a song that does grab your attention. For me though, I am not hearing Post-Hardcore in this song; I am hearing Filter and Linkin Park with a dash of My Chemical Romance as well.  I know other people will see it differently, but that is what I am hearing on this song. 

02 - Nü Romantics

Treating their audience to more emotional infused post hardcore music, this song starts off as if the devil himself is chasing the band and they are playing for their own freedom.  The manic pace of the start gives way for a slower and brooding ending that makes for my money is the more interesting section of the song.  They seem to revel in those sections of the song, with the heavier bass line making the song come to life. 

03 - Good Mourning, America

Starting with the sound of a crowd being shout at, a cheerleader chanting and a protest song about the current state of fear, racism and hatred in America at the moment (and probably for a lot longer than the media has let on).  This was the lead single to be released from the album, it is song that has a great hook in the chorus and cheerleader style chanting at the beginning of the song, a powerful message and a decent riff for the verses. 

04 - Who You Are Not

A slower number that aims for heart and with a dramatic piece of music that reminds me of Linkin Park 'Meteora' and comes across with the same level of intensity and depth.  Now, that might read with a little sarcasm, but that is not the intent as I am sure the band meant every word and played each note with a great passion and commitment.  But for me, the song is not one that I would return to as I feel I have heard it many moons ago and done by different artists.

05 - A Weak Ago

Another song which uses a word with different spelling to get a different meaning across to the listener, with a sharper guitar tone to the riff and a slightly dramatic stylisation to the song, this one is another that sort of feels empty in large sections of the song and does not exactly add anything to the experience.  Not bad, but it is not good either.

06 - Foreign Cab Rides

This song is one that the band have confirmed is about the wife of the lead singer of the band, it is all about returning home and pleading for faithfulness and companionship.  Again, it is a very noble sentiment and it is played as well as the band can manage, but this is the only time on the album where the lyrics just do not quite reach the same level as other songs and it feels a little bit too self-professing and a tiny bit creepy as well.  Not the best tune, but I can appreciate why it was wrote - but some of this song is uncomfortable to these ears as it feels slightly threatening and self-destructive (which is the intent of the song as confirmed in interviews with the band).

07 - Reluctantly Dead

A song about authority and the fear that has become a companion when Governments are seen to repress their citizens and how it is sometimes hard to fall in line when the policies of repression and force are the flavour of the day.  It is another song which showcases the strengths of the lyrics from letlive. and then the music just does not have that same power as the lyrical content.  It is another sub-Linkin Park in style and it feels a little throwaway, such a shame as those lyrics are amongst the best that this album has to offer.

08 - Elephant

A very punky opening here, with a reggae/dub feel to the guitar in the verse that is very interesting to be added to the mix on this number and the lyrics about the truth in the room breaking free and smashing everything up.  It is a short, sharp, kick in the balls of a song that I have been sort of expecting from the band, it is also one which is really catchy and for being a song that does not quite feel as important as other tracks on the album, it is the best one on the record for me - a little gem on this album.

09 - Another Offensive Song

This band is at its best when they are showing their punk side, that is the conclusion that I have come to with these last few songs as this is another kick-ass tune that manages to merge both sides of how I see this band operating (lyrics and music) into a ferocious bomb of social commentary that could set off a pit that will tear up a room and it also has a political message that should get people thinking for themselves.  I really do dig this song; it is a powerful number that makes up for other missed opportunities on this record.

10 - If I'm The Devil......

The title track of this album, one that is very dramatic and it is easy to see why it was picked as the song to spawn the album's name.  It is a large number, one that brings all parts of the band (punk, emo, Linkin Park) and does a good job of melting them all together to make an interesting song.  It is a slow number that at times veers very close to cliché at times, but pulls everything together to give this album one last dramatic moment towards the end of the record.

11 - Copper Colored Quiet

For any UK readers, the title is the American spelling of coloured, please be polite with that fact.  I was curious as to why the band had not used 'If I'm The Devil...' as the ending track of this album, but one listen to this song and you can see why they ordered the album in this particular way.  A song that relies on keyboard, percussion, chanting vocals and a primal feeling for the album.  It is an interesting song about change and the need for something to be destroyed so that growth can occur at times, it is a song that is aiming for something beautiful to come out of the chaos and destruction.  I like it, but I do not love it - I think that perfectly sums up the album for me as well.

This band seems to remind me of the period when every hip-nu metal band were having their songs used as theme music for Raw/SmackDown PPV's on WWF/E in the early 2000's - it is good for what it is, the noise is right and it certainly has its moments; however, (and it is a big however), it feels a little too light and give-away in terms of depth and repeated listens do not give much more rewards than you might have gathered from those initial listens.  The power of some of the lyrics is not supported musically for me, it is a little throwaway and whilst I know that you need bands like this and not everything can be the Swans or Zappa, it still needs a little something to gain some traction in my mind and this just sort of does not quite make it.  The record itself also takes an awful long time to gain any traction in my mind, with the ending of the album being a hell of a lot better than the beginning.  It is due to the ending section of this album that the mark is higher that it was going to be, it was almost a rare 4 or 5 out of ten (something that we do not seem to use a lot on this blog).  But it is certainly not a bad record either, just one that does not connect with me both musically and lyrically at the same time and certainly not one that I would be willing to make a deal with Lucifer to own.  Their heart is in the right place and some of their sentiments are noble with either the lyrical content being great or a very good riff, but the overall end product is not one that I could honest say is an album of the year contender, it is a good and solid release only - Sorry Mr. Cruise.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there

Top track - Elephant

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