Review Summary: Lifetime prove that even after a long absence they are still the kings of melodic hardcore.
Aaah the new Lifetime record, it’s a thoroughly intriguing prospect by all accounts. After ten long years New Jersey’s seminal melodic hardcore titans have returned and on Fall Out Boy’s record label no less, quite the controversial move. While for many this has offered some kind of serious moral dilemma, for the band it makes perfect sense. At Decaydence (Pete Wentz’s record label) they receive the benefits of publicity and solid distribution, meaning that their comeback receives the attention it deserves but at the same time they are not going to be pushed into any musical or touring decision they don’t like. Also what could be better than your boss being one of your biggest fans? Sounds like a sweet deal all round in truth. Musically it’s quite fascinating too, what exactly makes for a good comeback record? What do the fans want from a Lifetime reunion? That is assuming they want one at all. Lifetime have a choice to make, do they simply attempt to recreate the finest moments of the bands past or do they take their music in new directions. The former is the safer bet for sure, and would probably be more pleasing to fans, but does a band really reform after a decade of recording absence only to pick up where they left off? Contrary the popular opinion people change and unless you’re in Pennywise no-one really wants to keep making the same album forever. That said Lifetime are stuck between the two most un-inventive genres in popular music (forgive me for the generalisation), pop punk and hardcore. The only way to go is even poppier surely? I can just hear the cries of sell out everywhere.
Strangely Lifetime chose to pretty much follow the natural progression that they began way back in the mid nineties. That is cleaner production values and a bouncier and more melodic sound. Had this been made in 1999 the casual listener could be forgiven for not batting an eyelid. That is not to say that there is no differences because frankly that is a great big difference that is everywhere for everyone with an even partially trained ear to hear; the production. It’s a difficult one to call really because Jersey’s Best Dancers was a lot more polished than Hello Bastards but if that was just a nudge in the right direction this is two handed push down a 50ft drop. Forgive if I’m wrong but isn’t hardcore supposed to be raw? Or at least rough around the edges? On the other hand why would you want to sound like your record cost $500 to make when it really cost at least ten times that figure? Either way this maintains the clumsy happy-go-lucky feel Lifetime always had but it also glistens with an almost too perfect pop sheen which I’m sure detractors will put down to the Pete Wentz influence, but I’d credit to the fact that on this record the band had the capacity to achieve high production values, so they figured “why the hell not?”
So then let’s talk about the music. They still have the magic touch, they haven’t lost a step, however you want to put it Ari, Dan, Pete, Dave and Scott have still got it. A talent for song writing is not something that just disappears (with the notable exception of River Cuomo) and this is Lifetime as good as ever. It’s not going to revolutionise a genre but it should get jaded ex-hardcore kids who’ve long since abandoned themselves to a nine to five and get them circle pitting, head walking, drinking a few pints or whatever else it was 90’s kids did to get their kicks.
Lead single “Airport Monday Morning” is as infectious as hardcore music comes and is a reminder just what made Lifetime so great. I don’t claim have been around for their heyday, I would of been ten, but what makes them great to me is the superb balance they strike between being catchy and hook laden whilst being heavy and fast enough to scare aware the pre teens and leave you with plenty scene points to spare. “Just a Quiet Evening” follows in the same vein with another monstrous chorus. Clocking in at under 30 minutes it’s a love you and leave you affair with is perfect for a pop punk record of this ilk. Lyrically Ari Katz is in his usual self reflective mood, on “Can’t Think About It” were find him confronting the comeback of the band “So many words that I'd love to get by this, but everyone’s watching I'm out of disguises and nobody knows if the kids going to like it.” True to form we find him writing elsewhere about girls, girls and more girls.
I’m not going to lie. I got into Lifetime after I read somewhere on the internet they were making a comeback. As news of this spread their name got tossed around more and more everywhere I looked so naturally I fueled my curiosity and checked them out, of course I got hooked pretty soon. I’m sure old fans with have mixed feelings about the album and the reunion but at the end of the day it’s getting younger music fans into a seminal and truly great band. I don’t think you can argue that’s a bad thing.