LETLIVE. – IF I’M THE DEVIL
Release Date: 10 June 2016
℗ 2016 Epitaph
- I’ve Learned To Love Myself
- Nü Romantics
- Good Mourning, America
- Who You Are Not
- A Weak Ago
- Foreign Cab Rides
- Reluctantly Dead
- Another Offensive Song
- If I’m The Devil…
- Copper Colored Quiet
(Review by Nisa Ates)
If I’m The Devil has got to be one of, if not the most anticipated albums of 2016. At least for me. Since their 2013 release The Blackest Beautiful, I’d like to think the three-year wait was definitely worth it. It’s no question that letlive. are absolute pioneers in their craft and I don’t say that lightly. The band are known for their chaotic melodies and genre-crossing style mixed with passionate and honest lyrics – and how they’ve successfully coined the term ‘soul punx’ which I think is a very specific but accurate description of the band.
Their latest album, to be released on June 10th, I feel is a little more soul and a little more punx. And it’s still just as brilliant.
The album kicks off with I’ve Learned To Love Myself. The song is the perfect prologue to the album, the combination of Jason Butler’s soothing voice and mellow guitar eases us into what’s yet to come. Drum rolls and smooth strings join Jason and the tension rises, the song is powerful, theatrical and nothing less than emotional. As the track comes to an end, Nu Romantics bursts in at a much faster pace. The bass line and guitar riffs create the perfectly rapid style that letlive. have mastered over the years and you can still sing along to it – it’s a win-win.
The next track is none other than the first single released by the band. Good Mourning, America has to be one of my favourite songs off the album and even one of my favourite songs released by letlive. period (no pun intended). It’s the most politically blunt song on the record, influenced by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The opening to the song is pretty confronting but I think it really adds to the reality of the subject matter. We can hear some chatter which is soon followed by arguing, gun shots and people screaming – a direct reference to the unjustifiable police brutality against African Americans. A beautiful chorus of singers come in and help out with the opening verse; “We ain’t so different now are we? / Said the cop to the killer inside of me”. This is a song that you can sing along to, get angry about and scream along to, jump along to and mosh along to. There’s a lot of passion coming through this song and you can’t help but embrace it.
Who You Are Not is a track that I think has the potential of becoming a single. It immediately sticks with you and along with its catchy chorus, really emphasises Jason Butler’s unique abilities as a clean vocalist. A Weak Ago is probably the most musically diverse on the album with almost an old-school, rockabilly vibe but with a pop rock twist… I did mention letlive. and their genre-mixing abilities before, right? It’s that distinctive combination of sounds that really brings the song to a whole new level.
Foreign Cab Rides is introduced with, what is presumably, an audio recording of a cab driver conversing in a foreign language. The song itself is so soulful, things are slowed down again and you let yourself be consumed by Jason’s vocals as he movingly sings “Stay with me / And share my disease”. The buildup towards the end of the song really does it for me; gritty guitars and smashing cymbals? I’m sold. On to the next track, Reluctantly Dead. The song is the second single to come from the album and rightfully so, might I add. The vocal melodies are so addictive and the lyrical content and overall vibe of the song really mirrors that of Good Mourning, America.
Elephant is the shortest track on the album and dons a similar sense to A Weak Ago, although a lot more punchy and less rockabilly. Still fucking good. Another Offensive Song was also premiered by the band before the album release and is the ninth track on the album. It seems to be the heaviest song on the album so far – let me tell you this song will translate perfectly live. Given the band’s reputation for insanely intense shows, this song will be a killer.
If I’m The Devil, the second last song and title track of the (incredible, so far) album. Starting off with minimal backing music, Jason’s vocals – and passion – are heightened; “I am singing for you”. It’s a simple song but powerful in its minimalism. There’s no need for anything else, it speaks for itself.
Mirroring the tempo of the first track, Copper Coloured Quiet is a slow closer. I immediately notice the rhythm and beauty in the percussion in this song. Loniel Robinson is a master at his craft and the tightness of his playing really shines through in this album. With more backing vocals making an appearance, the track comes together so beautifully even with its aggressive lyrics, bringing the album to a strong close.
If I’m The Devil is a sure testament to the exclusive letlive. sound. It’s a lot crisper and controlled than their previous release but still unruly and explosive in the best way possible. Not a single effort has gone to waste.