Los Angeles post-hardcore outfit letlive. has evolved their sound in their new record, 'If I'm The Devil'. The new album abandons some of the harshness found in previous album and fills the gap with filling harmonies and arena--filling guitars.
Balancing energy and quieter moments can prove a challenge, but letlive. does well with this on the new record. Songs including the bombastic 'Good Mourning, America' and the Death From Above 1979-esque, positive sounding 'Nu Romantics' ooze loads of energy and big rock power. The songs on this record tend to have giant bridges and/or endings, definitely aimed for big live moments. The album doesn't miss out on softer moments, however. Closer track 'Copper Colored Quiet' is an anthemic and theatrical song backed by a substantial orchestra that slowly builds up over time, while starting quietly and reaches a climax, which is not as massive as other songs found on the record, but definitely brings the record to a suitable end. 'Foreign Cab Rides' also takes a more somber road, but builds up into a panicy ending with a massive presence,
'If I'm The Devil' may be a more approachable inlet in letlive.'s discography, but it doesn't let that stop some experimentation and risks. Introduction 'I've Learned To Love Myself' doesn't sound quiet like anything the band has done thus far, starting the album on a powerful and dark note. The song feels like it was taken straight out of Chelsea Wolfe's playbook with some guitars slapped on and lyrics taken from Trent Reznor's journal. The song is crushingly emotional, with a broken disposition in the brilliant vocal performance from vocalist Jason Butler. The melody itself tells a story, Butler showing off his signature theatrics with his voice. The disposition of the track is even haunting, Butler laughing at the situation the song describes: the rejection and acceptance of a broken soul. The guitars burst in with grand acclaim, complimenting the darkness of the record, and the crushing nature of the track gets no easier as it progresses. A bold move to start the album with one of the best songs the band has ever written, but it doesn't make the rest of the album any worse.
Other newly treaded areas of the record include the radio-pleaser 'Who You Are Not', seemingly intended to bring in fans from a poppier angle. The song itself is a banger; the fact that it has less of a letlive. vibe to it does not make it any less of a great jam. It's almost a central point of the record; the call to arms gang vocals a recurring theme across the record bringing the determination to an all time high in the song. Lead single 'Reluctantly Dead' is just as good, the determined and grand choruses spewing energy into the record at it's midpoint. 'A Weak Ago' shows signs of flamenco and western influences, the subtle rage in the vocals hidden under the almost ridiculous overtones show the brilliance of the band's creativity. Title track 'If I'm The Devil' begins creepily with a spidery muted guitar track and a choir singing staccatos until Butler's vocals kick in. It builds up in a huge way, the end of the song climaxing then ending quietly as if to provide a reprisal of the emotions experienced within the track. The only flop on the record is the upfront 'Another Offensive Song', which is titled as ridiculously as it sounds. The band seemed to take the "let's be as edgy and punk as we can sound" approach with this one, to negative results.
letlive. does not disappoint. Whether it be the revealing and tortured lyrics found on their debut 'Fake History' or the sharp and rugged riffs of 'The Blackest Beautiful', this band finds way to blend their grandiose with heaviness. While 'If I'm The Devil' may not be their heaviest, or even most true-to-self record, it's undoubtedly a signature album in the band's building discography. The music shows progression and a new mentality towards their sound, which is really all anyone can ask for of any band. They understood that while they had their niche, overdoing it would kill off others, as well as their own interest. Progression is key for musicians, and letlive. did not let that brooding task stop them.
Favorite Tracks: I've Learned To Love Myself, If I'm The Devil, Copper Colored Quiet
Least Favorite Track: Another Offensive Song