One may dare say that Jason Butler IS Letlive. Although the rest of the band cannot be discounted, Mr. Butler himself should be credited with much of the power behind the band’s appeal. Jason’s insane on stage presence forms an interesting polarity with his intelligent demeanor off-stage; this polarity combines with his substantial talents as a vocalist, and thus the frontman of Letlive becomes a very commanding man indeed. This brings up an important insight into the band’s mindset while diving into their newest album, “The Blackest Beautiful.” Jason and his buddies in Letlive are very intelligent; they knew exactly what they were doing. The new album was to escalate their fame with more mainstream appeal whilst still seeming like a natural evolution from the sound they showcased with their critically acclaimed “Fake History”. In this respect, they have succeeded to some extent.
Letlive has always thrived on the building up and sudden breaking of tension, and while “Fake History” does this more subtly, “The Blackest Beautiful” accelerates this process by making it more sudden and frequent. This is evident in many areas on the album, from the sudden acoustic interlude on Banshee, to the scream-punctuated breakdowns in White America’s Beautiful Black Market. The whole album itself even attempts this to a certain degree in terms of song placement, albeit with poor results; the album’s backbone rests on the first five tracks on the album, from Banshee until the ending of That Fear Fever. Five aggressive, chorus-driven songs build up the tension, only to be diffused by the low-energy tracks Virgin Dirt and Younger. The album picks up once again with The Dope Beat, but the damage has already been done. At this point, the spoken-word passage of 27 Club becomes quite intolerable.
Despite how derivative the band is, Letlive manages to make the most of their influences. Their strength lies in their high-octane songs and their bombast choruses, and they have chosen to exploit this as much as possible without seeming homogenous. One common criticism against the album is the production, and indeed, it sounds much more produced than “Fake History”. This does not bode well for a band with fans that highly value authenticity. The passion of Letlive’s songwriting is at odds for the hollow production. The vocal production on Jason’s clean vocals becomes borderline ridiculous at times, but fortunately he hits the right notes. The other production touches also become rather absurd, with the laughter samples in Pheromone Cvlt being the most ludicrous of the bunch. The mix is muddled and the guitars are often barely audible, drowned out by the omnipresent bass drum and Jason himself. Another area the band falls flat on is the song structuring; each song is essentially structured similarly, and seeing as how the new Letlive puts focus on Jason’s clean vocals and choruses, the end product seems homogenous and mechanical, with few standout instrumental parts.
The mainstream appeal the band was going for will likely be gained, but old fans are likely to be disappointed with the band’s newest offering. But taken by itself, “The Blackest Beautiful” is what Letlive intended it to be; a hook-laden cacophony tuned to pander to pop sensibilities. As squandered as the band’s talent is, they have managed to churn out something gritty, emotional, and powerful. Take it or leave it, and hope that the band's next release learns from the criticism.
My favourite review of this yet, sums up my feelings pretty well. Agree that 27 Club's spoken word passage is intolerable and I've grown to love Pheremone Cvlt even though that sample is horrendous. Banshee is still an ace track but I don't dig any of the other first 5 at all, The Dope Beat rules though. Definetly pos'd, don't know if my praise means much but nice review bro yeah
Finally a review that mentioned the production. God it sucks, but the album is great. I think there is still plenty of heavy parts and I feel that this album is just slightly below fake history. Saw these guys live yesterday at warped tour, they were absolutely amazing. Most entertaining show of the day thats for sure.
haha no he did come out afterwards to perfrom a Chariot song in his boxers. During their set he threw around the floor boards, ripped off his shirt hulk style, and during hte instrumental section of 27 Club he climbed over the fence and ride (this was at Molson Amphitheatre, there were waterslides and stuff), found a inflatable boat, dragged it to the stage and then threw it on the crowd then leaped on top of it and crowd surfed on the boat hahah. It was awesome