LETLIVE. The Blackest Beautiful (2013)
Having been heralded as the saviours of post-hardcore by the press and the scene alike after the release of their stellar Fake History opus and having garnered the world’s attention as the ‘Must See ’ live act of the modern era due to the eye-catching performances of Jason Aalon Butler, the pressure was on letlive. to deliver all over again on it’s follow up. By pressure, we’re not talking “fingers crossed”. At a time where bands who feel truly vital are thin on the ground, this was more last minute penalty against your local rivals in the cup pressure. The fact that you’re reading about this album in a section called Modern Classics probably tells you that they broke the back of the net.
Echoing the fire and temerarious intensity of Refused and the fearless invention of Glassjaw, this is the type of music that lights a fire in your eyes when it hits your ears. The term ‘Soul Punx’ was born and while it might come across as a cool slogan to put on a t-shirt to the cynical, it was an accurate description of what letlive. had concocted on The Blackest Beautiful. The band themselves play with all the attitude and barbarity of a punk rock band but their interplay and woven intricacy has as much in common with funk and it does anything Flag ever served up.
The songs that make up this record are not based in your traditional “verse, chorus, bridge” format. They feel truly wild and untamable. The turns of pace flit and dart in a fashion that feels primitive yet focused. A song like That Fear Fever is all slick beats and frantic, almost paranoid feel that builds to a middle crescendo that echoes doom metal whilst Butler scats like an outpatient. There isn’t a song on the album that couldn’t be eulogized in such a fashion. Each and every second of this record feels crucial and interesting.
The band bring an ever interesting musical canvas but the heart and mind of this band come from the voice of Jason Butler. Housing the most soulful voice to enter rock in forever, his voice is a weapon capable of making you want to put a brick through a window or feel the warmth of a thousand burning suns. His faint asides feel like he’s conducting his bandmates. His performance as he sings to the downtrodden, confused and disenfranchised on White America’s Beautiful Black Market is breathtaking. The frenetic yet impassioned delivery on the likes of Banshee (Ghost Fame) and 27 Club can’t help but make you feel and he reaches Prince levels of funked up cool on Pheremone Cvlt.
Put simply, letlive. are one of the most exciting things to happen to rock music in the 21st Century. Both Fake History and this have taken my pick for album of the year in their respective years of release. For me at least, nothing excites me like the prospect of a new letlive. album. If you’re one of those people that questions the vitality, invention and originality of the bands of today, The Blackest Beautiful is the answer.