I�ve always wanted to go to Australia. �Downunda� has so many appealing qualities. From the beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather, awesome locales, and great musical events, it seems like the perfect place for me. Speaking of musical events, let�s focus on Australian pop-rock band The Living End. Well, from what I�ve heard, been told, and read, they�re huge down there. It�s easy to see why: The Living End make good music. It�s catchy, it�s well-constructed, and most importantly, it�s radio-friendly. I can hardly blame people for obsessing over The Living End. They make music, and they do a damn good job with it.
My first foray into The Living End was my purchase of their third studio album, MODERN ARTillery
. At first, I could easily pick out all of the band�s redeeming qualities. For one thing, vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney is extremely talented. His guitar tone is refined, clean, and yet has plenty of bite to back up its bark. He�s also a better-than-average player. The songs on MODERN ARTillery
are rather impressive from a six-string standpoint. Texture-laden, melodic riffs exude hooks that are sharp enough to draw in even the most casual listener. To be honest, upright-bassist Scott Owens and drummer Andy Strachan also shine on MODERN ARTillery
. The basslines are thick and deep, while the drumming is furious, yet retains its flowing properties. Suffice to say, The Living End are great musicians, especially for their genre.
However, the one area where they fail on MODERN ARTillery
is song construction. The album starts off extremely strong, but then tapers on and off into a state of pathetic mediocrity. It�s unfortunate actually, because The Living End flagrantly flaunt examples of how good their third album could
have been, had it been more consistent. MODERN Artillery
, for all its instrumental triumphs, just falls right on its face by the time you hit its middle. I can�t really explain why. Maybe The Living End just tried too hard. Maybe they caught writer�s block. Hell, maybe they actually thought
they were writing good songs. I may never know the real answer as to why MODERN ARTillery
breaks apart so quickly. Now, that�s not to say the only good portion of this album is the beginning. No, what I�m trying to point out is how up and down the final sections of the album are. You get a good song, followed by a fairly boring and/or overdone-sounding one. And MODERN ARTtillery
�s final two tracks, �Hold Up� and �The Room� are just terrible.
Now, allow me to elaborate on the fantastic introductory songs I�ve been rambling on about. With the exception of the album�s lamentable first single, �End of the World,� the first section of MODERN ARTillery
is absolutely stellar. �What Would You Do?,� �One Said to the Other� and �Who�s Going to Save Us,� showcase The Living End�s excellent songwriting skills. They also happen to feature some of that great musicianship that The Living End do so well. Ah, but then MODERN ARTillery
hits its fantastic peak. No, peak isn�t appropriate. Ridge? Apex? Hmmm�none of those quite seem to describe �Jimmy.� The catchiest, most well-constructed song on the album, �Jimmy� is the perfect example of how The Living End should
write music. From the fantastic lyrics to the simple-yet-effective instrumentation, �Jimmy� is one hell of a song. If you ever check anything from this album out, make sure it�s this song. Maybe then you�ll cast an extremely positive opinion on the rest of MODERN ARTillery
. So, I hope you have a decent synopsis of the high points of this album. Now I have to get to the rather unfortunate business of explaining just why MODERN ARTillery
becomes rather forgettable.
�Tabloid Magazine� is a decent enough song. Hardly one of the poor examples I�ve been droning on about. Catchy and straightforward, and now without its own quirkiness, �Tabloid Magazine� is another fine example of The Living End�s unique brand of pop-rock. Conversely, �In The End� and �Maitland Street� are both boring, repetitive, bland that will make you shake your head and wonder where all that energetic enthusiasm went. �Putting You Down� sounds too similar to �Maitland Street� to be an effective song. The funky beat salvages things a little, but the song is just too ho-hum to stand alone. �Short Notice� is a slight improvement, but nothing spectacular. At least it manages to capture a little more of The Living End�s energy, but the song just isn�t good enough to hold its own on raw enthusiasm alone. �So What� is another improvement. It seems like The Living End are returning to form. The great lyrics mix well with the fun guitar riffs, making for a song that�s actually pretty good.
�Rising Up From the Ashes� is the last gem from MODERN ARTtillery
. It�s actually rather ironic, given the song�s title. �Rising Up From the Ashes� is the last great song that MODERN ARTillery
has to offer. Sadly, it�s all downhill from here. The final two tracks �Hold Up� and �The Room� are nothing but utter tripe. Seriously, I don�t really know what The Living End were thinking, but these two songs just don�t flow at all. It�s a disappointing finish, where there was a fantastic opportunity to revitalize this record.
Since I first purchased MODERN ARTillery
have had several chances to listen to other albums from The Living End. On the whole, they�re far better than this one. While MODERN ARTillery
is a good, solid album, there was plenty of room for improvement. Still, I still see all the areas that would�ve allowed The Living End to become the international sensation that they are. Well, the word �sensation� may only apply to Australia, but other fitting adjectives suit this band for the rest of the world. Now, I�m going to be ridiculously stereotypical for my fantastically pretentious close by writing this: G�day mate!