11 April 2011
by Tomas Doyle
letlive. come to us heavy with the weight of hype – the new cool kids band of choice, their recent forays to the UK have been met with clamarous reception from those eager to see what all the fuss is about. Their third album, Fake History, is then an important record for a band who seemingly stand on the cusp of being one of the great success stories of 2011 and beyond. Can it truly live up to the expectations that already surround it?
In many ways the answer is a resounding “yes” – that is to say this is exactly the sort of thing that you would expect to develop a groundswell of interest from a generation raised on hardcore, metal and what, I suppose, you would have to refer to here as “emo”. There is without doubt plenty here to please; the one two fuck you opening gambit of ‘The Sick Sick 6.8 Billion’ and ‘Renegade ’86’ have the requisite crunch for those looking to throw a shape “in tha pit” whilst retaining (most notably in the latter) a chorus which is so infectious you feel like you should be able to get tested for it at your local GUM clinic. What quickly becomes abundantly clear is that the component parts are well and truly in place for letlive.
The quintet are evidently intensely musically adept and capable of some enthralling technical flourishes but it is with the presence of vocalist Jason Butler where they are truly blessed. His range of both singing and screaming remains extraordinary throughout the album’s 14 track duration. Yelps and fervent roars give way to hand on heart melody to occasionally breathtaking affect with the opening bars of ‘We the Pros of Con’ – a prime example of what a weapon he is behind a microphone.
A lazy pigeon-holing mentality have led some towards comparison with New Jersey legends Glassjaw, and whilst it is certainly true that some of Butler’s delivery and “away from the mic” soul searching motifs are reminiscent of Daryl Palumbo the band are far from wholesale rip-offs. However, it is perhaps within the framwork of this comparison where some of the flaws of Fake History are best drawn out. Whilst Glassjaw’s finest hours saw them produce claustrophobic, confrontational and occasionally genuinely nasty noise, Fake History feels somewhat sanitised, clean and slightly overstuffed with vocal lines that can become decidedly saccharine by the time the album has run its course. Moreover, as Fake History wears on a formula starts to emerge, the “chaos” begins to feel stage-managed and carefully constructed. There is very little feeling of danger here, no jeopardy, out-and-out lunacy or a real sense that the band are pushing envelopes in the way that they admittedly show, in glimpses, they are capable of.
Watch the video to ‘Casino Columbus’ by letlive.:
This is by no means a bad album, in fact it is a good album but it smacks of a band struggling hard to fit their entire repertoire into one record (and sometimes one song). The end result is a pervasive feeling of disjointedness and a constant sense that this is a waterdown version of something which could be truly spectacular. Does Fake History live up to expectation? Yes, it is the exact right record for letlive. to release at this moment in time and all being well it will catapult them towards the summit of a scene which badly needs fresh blood. Is it a great album? The answer, sadly, is no.
Sounds like: Glassjaw (kinda), Protest The Hero
Top tracks: We, the Pros of Con, The Sick Sick 6.8 Billion, Casino Columbus
letlive. – Fake History tracklisting:
The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion
We, the Pros of Con
Over Being Under
Hollywood, and She Did
This Mime (A Sex Symbol)