Defeater
Letters Home


3.5
great

Review

by Jacob R. STAFF
July 24th, 2013 | 137 replies | 19,140 views


Release Date: 07/16/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let me be damned.

With the release of Letters Home, we once again find ourselves at a time where opinions on Defeater are being spewed from a lot of people with a lot to say. Not that I blame them-- it’s been interesting to watch the hardcore group’s immediate popularity, then the more critical reception of their most recent efforts, and to be a part of that dialogue. Through such conversations, I’ve come closer to understanding exactly where Defeater lost its more traditional hardcore fanbase-- the rawness of the group’s debut Travels hasn’t been touched in quite some time, and the band’s music has instead been wearing its emotions on its sleeve.

Now, we all know what emotions come with a Defeater record-- sorrow, grief, loneliness-- and that’s because the band has become more or less infamous for how emotionally up-front it is. But this is where we’re approaching the group from the wrong angle, because Defeater knows it’s over-the-top-- and I think we do, too. I suppose that’s why I’ve never had an issue with the group’s action-movie-come-soap-opera theatricality, because I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of its presentation. Defeater comes across as that one Broadway show that’s so over-the-top that it’s discussed for years after its debut, the one that offers no subtleties, yet whose audience cares far more than that of its contemporaries.

And listeners like me, people that enjoy the bleak stories that come from the group, are bound to find the enjoyment in Letters Home they found in Defeater’s previous releases. Little has changed here-- the band is continuing the story of a family in shambles, this time starring the abusive father of Empty Days and Sleepless Nights’ trouble-bound narrator. It is interesting to hear the group conveying the message through its music, and I, for one, enjoy the fact that Defeater has continued its familial narrative-- it gives the band’s music a sense of urgency it might otherwise lack.

However, the music of Letters Home is different from its predecessor, because it attempts to match the bleak atmosphere of its lyrics. While Empty Days and Sleepless Nights offered songs that were entertaining enough without lyric booklet in hand, Letters Home is much more dependent on its story for emotional impact. For those that listen to Defeater for purely musical reasons, most of Letters Home is meandering, homogeneous and ultimately forgettable. Songs like “No Faith” are a chore for this crowd, because the instrumentation has little say in the tracks’ overall mood-- Derek Archambault is the only one telling the story this time around.

But when the story is either just starting up or about to end, things align as they should. While a bit derivative for Defeater, “Bastards” does something important for Letters Home-- it carries the story on its back, while treading more musical ground than any of the other songs here. The most captivating moment of Letters Home is its closer, though. “Bled Out” is a counterpart to Empty Days and Sleepless Nights’ “White Oak Doors,” in that both tracks maintain every bit of tension their respective albums introduce. With “Bled Out,” though, the story ends properly, fading out after six minutes of droning percussion and whizzing feedback. The song’s monotony makes the denouement of Letters Home that much more satisfying, because the cord is cut precisely when it needs to be. The story ends in tragedy, just as we all anticipated-- those expecting anything different just haven’t been paying close enough attention.



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user ratings (324)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Robert Lowe CONTRIBUTOR (2.5)
And still all I see is that bastard in me...

NothingForSomething (3.5)
Defeater’s third LP is what you make of it....

Charlie (3)
Defeater's third outing "Letters Home" is largely competent but ultimately forgettable, and sees the...

ALucidReality (3)
Letters Home has all the elements needed to be a classic hardcore album - most of the time found in ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2013



10003 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Favorite tracks: Bastards, No Savior, Bled Out

Hi, Hep Kat.


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ti0n
July 24th 2013



1377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well done. pretty much my thoughts.

Kris.
July 24th 2013



12152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

way better than treb's shit review
no offense to treb
but that review is shit
not because of the rating either

but yeah excellent review

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2013



10003 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha, thanks dudes.

Cygnatti
July 24th 2013



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dude, you rated this higher than both devil and god AND bansheebeat?!

neg'd.

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BassDemon333
July 24th 2013



3350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best review for this album by far. I agree with pretty much everything you said, glad to see some love for "Bled Out".

InFiction
July 24th 2013



3638 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Great review. Completely agree with your rating.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

ILJ
July 24th 2013



6617 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pretty neat review, Bastards is the best track on here though. Also, nice DGD avatar, listened to their whole discog over the past couple days.

Digging: Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2013



49788 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

fuck you kris what have u even wroten

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taxidermist
July 24th 2013



7195 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

wroten?

Kris.
July 24th 2013



12152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

have you read the bible

Spec
July 24th 2013



27057 Comments


Great review as usual.

mindleviticus
July 24th 2013



8167 Comments


these guys are really mediocre and I have no doubt that this is boring and "aggressively lame" :]

mindleviticus
July 24th 2013



8167 Comments


but yeah great review regardless

NeoSpaz
July 24th 2013



4517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

chiyull. good job Omaha

GiaNXGX
July 24th 2013



4867 Comments


'are bound find the'

missing a 'to' there (?)

0 qualms other than that, Jacob, pretty great review.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2013



10003 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

< 3 appreciate it, all of you.

dude, you rated this higher than both devil and god AND bansheebeat?!


Yep, and just wait for my Misery Signals review. You're going to cry.

glad to see some love for "Bled Out".


Yeah, man, it's one of the most interesting songs here for me. Glad to hear I'm not the only one that feels that way.

Bastards is the best track on here though. Also, nice DGD avatar, listened to their whole discog over the past couple days.


Oh, Bastards is great. It's just nothing new for Defeater, so while it's one of the best songs here, I find that there's less to say about it.

And cool to hear you've been digging DGD. I've been listening to them a lot because of my bandmates' influence. Really thrilled about the new album!

these guys are really mediocre and I have no doubt that this is boring and "aggressively lame"


Well, with that mindset...

missing a 'to' there (?)


Good catch, thanks man!



Cygnatti
July 25th 2013



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yep, and just wait for my Misery Signals review. You're going to cry.
I already am. T_T


greg84
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2013



7315 Comments


Great write-up Jacob. I've never been a fan of these guys.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2013



10003 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks man, and yeah, they aren't for everyone. What have you heard from them?



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