Defying genres and labels is no easy feat, but for many years now, the band letlive. has done exactly that. Skating around post-hardcore and punk rock elements, they created a sound of their own. The band worked hard, both musically and lyrically, to create an artistic product, while maintaining their sound fresh in their fourth-studio album “If I’m The Devil.”
The Los Angeles based band letlive. has been going strong now for 14 years, despite the fact that the band only has one founding member left in it, vocalist Jason Butler. Not counting the five current members of the band, there have been 14 others who, at one point in time, were part of the band. With an almost constant rotating cast of members, it is almost hard to keep the same sound going into a new project, which necessarily isn’t a bad thing, especially not for “If I’m The Devil.”
“If I’m The Devil” is an 11 track record, clocking out at around 45 minutes long. There is a sense of mainstream appeal to this record and some new instrumental elements present. That isn’t a bad thing, and for the most part, it works well for most of the record. The only thing that it seems to affect is the running order. It’s not as organic as past records and has some issues in flow, but nothing that disrupts the whole listening experience. There is a sense of the band slowing down for their record. For long time fans of the band, this may not have been expected coming in. But as for the subject matter and new musical elements, they all come together well.
Musically, there are a lot of new focuses on the different elements in this record. Most tracks are focused on percussion with memorable drum rhythms to nod your head along to. You can hear more of this in the track “Good Mourning America.” Then there are tracks like “Nu Romantics,” which have a fast paced bassline that sticks with the theme that wasn’t really expected, but works incredibly well. There are a lot of new influences in this record too. Elements of hip-hop and soul are very noticeable and accompany to the slower paced songs on the record. That’s not to say that the band’s classic punk sound isn’t there, but there is an appeal to the more mainstream fans of the scene and fans of other genres as well.
Lyrically, there is a lot motivating the songs. Most tracks on this record are politically and socially charged. In “Good Mourning America,” it sounds as if the band is fed up with the system and has grown tired of how everyone has been treated. It stands out as one of the hit tracks of the record. What really drives home the lyrics of each track are Butler’s vocals. He has found a pitch perfect way to deliver each and every song. Just like the music, he can start of slow and strong and then pick up at the end with strength. This couldn’t be clearer in the closing track “Copper Colored Quiet,” which is arguably when Butler is at his best.
Final Score: 4/5
Overall, there is a lot of fresh new ideas present in “If I’m The Devil” that prove the band member’s skills as musicians. The record as a whole has some flow issues, but each track stands out from each other by either being musically different and pushing the boundaries of other genres or by being something that is better than what mainstream media has to offer. If you were looking for a record to get you into hardcore music, look no further. There is something here that a lot of people will find appealing, unlike some of the band’s past works. Regardless, it is some of the band’s best music.
Letlive. rolled through Fort Collins back in March with The Wonder Years, but if you were looking to check them out live, you have another chance. The band is on a headlining tour and will be in Denver at The Summit Music Hall on July 22. You can buy your tickets at thesummitmusichall.com
Collegian Music Critic Alec Erickson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CTV_ACE.