letlive. – If I’m The Devil

After 40 years, what is punk in 2016? Well, as in 1976, punk is an attitude, a DIY ethos with a heart of rebellion that rallies against the conformity and corruption of society. It is also, if you’re not a complete twatpad, a style of music, and one that letlive. have largely forgotten in 2016. Their last album, 2013’s ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ was a caustic, melodic masterclass in modern post hardcore, blending slick riffs and clattering drums with rasping vocals and politics. Follow-up ‘If I’m The Devil’ on the other hand, while still oh so pissed at the system, presents a blue collar, AOR, lighters-in-the-air stadium version of aggression, ditching the itchy, twitchy punk for blue denim and placards. From bellicose balladry to balletic bellicosity. Gone are the jazzy rhythms that quicken the heart; gone are the riffs that needle the skin; and gone are the tourettic tics that made Jason Aalon Butler’s vocals so interesting. To quote Blackadder, “well of course we wish you to roar, all great orators roar”, and Butler was indeed once a great orator, but to paraphrase the same show, he now “mews like a frightened tree”. For a band that built its reputation on the chaos of the live show, there is little chaos to be found…but who said that was a bad thing? Is it hardcore? No. Is it even punk? Not really. But is it any good? Well, yes. The album is a thing of beauty, an impassioned, coherent work with lush tones and intelligent lyrics, both of which stick in the mind long after the batteries run out. Although the choruses falter, ‘Nu Romantics’ and ‘Another Offensive Song’ overdose on the kind of charging verses that made TBB so great, while lead single ‘Good Mourning America’ and mid-album pick-me-up ‘A Weak Ago’ keep one foot in the past and the other in the soulful ponds of Americana. That leaves the rest of the album to slow it down, and Bruce Springsteen the fuck up. Essentially, it’s an album many will come back to in years to come, just not when they’re in the mood for a bit of letlive.

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Categories: Album Reviews, Reviews

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