Letlive. are a band with something rare to defend in 2016, a perfect two-for-two with regards recorded output, and a flawless reputation in the live arena.
Building their reputation on politically-charged songs served alongside an incendiary, razor-sharp live show led by charismatic, enigmatic frontman Jason Aalon Butler, letlive, brought their brand of 'soul punk' to the forefront of this decade's musical landscape.
All eyes on If I'm The Devil, then. A sonic step away from Fake History and The Blackest Beautiful, it sets its stall out early. I've Learned To Love Myself is sprawling, expansive and a devastating tidal wave to Casino Columbus' flick knife to the eye.
If I'm The Devil offers social commentary in its most raw, heartfelt form, Butler focusing his aggression on the abuse of power in society.
Butler has spoken of the emotional weight behind the recording of If I'm The Devil., and every crossed path & butting of heads has come to fruition.
Lead single Good Mourning, America sees letlive. take aim at police brutality aimed at ethnic minorities, and it set the album's stall out long before release.
It's easy to focus on Butler as the record's focal point, but If Im The Devil. is as much about guitarist Jeff Sahyoun and Lionel Robinson's work behind the kit. The former's drawling, extravagant intro to A Weak Ago combined with off-kilter stick-work is masterful.
This is the Letlive. we know and love, it's just that they've switched their game up a gear. There's still their hallmark frenetic nature, but rather than forming the backbone of If I'm The Devil. it's used sparingly, deepening its impact. Another Offensive Song lives up to its title, a vitriol-spitting head-down unrelenting charge, but the album's core strength is in its sheer size and scope.
Foreign Cab Rides builds to an arena-worthy crescendo, while Reluctantly Dead is geared far more to expansive stages than the cramped, claustrophobic venues that they soundtracked with Fake History and The Blackest Beautiful.
There's a strut through album closer Copper Colored Quiet, Butler almost crooning 'we all came to watch your world as it burns,' complete with expansive, almost bombastic string accompaniments.
For letlive., the punk is in the ethics and the message, the soul is in the delivery. This is an intelligently crafted take on protest music served as a punch to the face of a generation brought up on saccharin-sweet rebellion. Consider the standard set.
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