Review Summary: Letlive create something worthy of a spot in every post-hardcore lover's library.
Only a few seconds into the album, and I’m already being thrust headfirst into Fake History. And trust me, when you are told by this band to stand up, the only thing keeping one from doing so is, well, very little actually. Perhaps it’s because the members of Letlive aren’t quite so restrained with their music. Indeed, from the first minute or two of the album it is made exponentially clear that Letlive isn’t bothered much about what anybody thinks of their music. In fact, Letlive are extremely upfront about their sound from the start. This band isn’t out to change the world, they’re just making music. They may not be the most original musicians around, but what they do; they do with outstanding taste and fluency.
Letlive take influences from other bands and weave them together into a brilliant, if familiar sound. The band’s vocalist Jason Butler’s inspirations come off quite clearly in his vocals on the album. Bands like Glassjaw and Coheed and Cambria come to mind while listening to his voice. Make no mistake though; this isn’t a bad thing at all. It becomes apparent from the moment the record starts. The band isn’t looking to redefine a genre, and really, all they needed was to draw from all of their influences and create something that is truly their own. In this respect, the band has succeeded. This is mostly due to Jason Butler and the band’s drummer, Anthony Rivera. The pair really deserve extra praise for their performances on this album. Each of them pull off their jobs with attitude and flair, and the pair really keep the overall sound of Fake History from falling into complete genericism.
Onto the actual music, the intro to the album is probably the best way to start it off, because it’s such a good indicator of what to come. It also contains some of the best lyrics I have heard to start off an album:
“there are no martyrs in resolution
if you remain still, don’t expect restitution
stand up, stand up, stand up”
”no worthy icons, no revolution
if you remain seated, expect destitution
stand up, stand up, stand up”
The album quickly moves into familiar post-hardcore territory from here, “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion” is a bludgeoning anthem for the most part. The majority of the song is screamed, leading into the first real glimpse we get of a Letlive chorus. These can be summed up in one word: Catchy. Every single chorus on this album is a quick, catchy break from the harsh screaming and relentless guitar work of the songs. It’s a good formula and it has worked in post-hardcore for years, and in this album, as proved in the next few songs.
“Renegade ‘86”, “Enemigos/Enemies”, and “Casino Columbus” are all stellar tracks that follow the aforementioned formula, except for perhaps “Enemigos/Enemies”. If it weren’t for the incredible choruses, some of these songs might even be hard to distinguish. Thankfully, the band is too skillful at writing songs to allow that.
Every single song found on this album has a moment that will make you stop and wonder how they thought of it in the first place. Whether it is the ending of “Casino Columbus”, the female vocals in “Muther” or the brutal breakdown in “H. Ledger”, the band has gone to lengths to make sure that there is not a skippable song on the album, and it shows.
Perhaps the greatest highlight on the entire album though, is the song “Muther”. I cannot recommend this song enough, it is absolutely amazing. The song begins on a higher tone then the previous songs, and grinds to an atmospheric halt at which point a truly heartfelt song is literally poured out in front of you. The song is destined to be one of the best of 2010. The lyrics are so personal, so intense, that one can’t help but sympathise with the vocalist, Jason Butler. He reaches a point where he begins to literally break down, where you can hear his deep breathing, where you can feel what he is feeling. At this point a talented female vocalist enters and brings the song back down to a slower pace. Yes, it’s all amazing, but the song truly becomes its own in the outro. And what an outro it is, it has to be heard to be fully explained, but essentially it is the antithesis to the energetic, youthful post-hardcore of the rest of the album. The outro of “Muther” is so mature, so tasteful that I honestly never expected a young band like Letlive to create anything like it.
Though most of the other songs on the album pale lyrically and atmospherically in comparison to “Muther”, there are definitely some highlights in the latter part of them album. “Homeless Jazz” is probably the second best song on the album. Jazz is probably not the right word to describe this song, but its jazz influences shine through very clearly. It combines the heaviness of “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion” with the catchiness of “Renegade ‘86”, and even tags on a short atmospheric interlude at the 2:50 mark. At the very least, it is a fitting follow up to “Muther”.
“We, the Pros of Con”, “H Ledger” and “Over Being Under” largely follow the blueprints set out by the first half of the album. “H Ledger” is, in my opinion, the highlight of this section with its incredible chorus and breakdown. Still though, these songs differ relatively little from each other in terms of their respective hardcore sections. Unfortunately, “Day 54” is my least favourite song on the album. It’s not awful, it just takes a while to get going. The lyrics of this song are very open and honest, considering Jason’s screaming about all of his friends deaths:
“F*ck Drugs, F*ck Straight Edge,
Those were both the F*cking things
that took the best of my friends”
The ending of this song is rather monolithic. The chanting in the background gives the song a massive, towering feel. Again, it isn’t horrible, I just wish the band had shaved off about a minute or two from this song.
With Fake History, Letlive has created something that will not be remembered as a classic, but still as an amazing post-hardcore album. Let’s just hope that Letlive’s next album is the classic that this could easily have been.
-Vocals and Drumming
-The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion