Review Summary: A mediocre set of unoriginal but pleasant songs.
Circa 2005, emotional pop-punk was an increasingly huge pop culture fad that received more and more backlash as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and countless clones made their way into the mainstream via MySpace. Concurrently paralleling this phenomenon was the rise of similar-sounding Christian bands like Relient K and Anberlin that perhaps leaned closer to pop rock or power pop than pop punk. Nonetheless, this sweeping trend inspired duplicates that often leached off of the pioneering bands, swiping ideas without contributing anything new beyond perhaps a pleasant tune or two. All this did was saturate the market and earn disdain for the genre. Enter Nevertheless.
Beyond the Christian stations that played the lead single ‘The Real,’ Nevertheless’s 2005 release Live Like We’re Alive
garnered almost no attention. However, the band serves as a primary example of a leech of that generation. Their music can best be described as a mix of early-era Anberlin, Jack’s Mannequin, and Relient K that shamelessly rips off of these bands’ sounds. Sometimes the result is satisfactory. Opener ‘The Real’ has a fun pop-punk intro with a distinctly Anberlin-sounding chorus full of singalong “whoa ohs.” There is some nifty guitarwork in the chorus as well that lends the chorus more depth. The title track likewise contains an energetic intro and, despite the puerile carpe diem type lyrics, a soaring chorus. Both tracks, if unoriginal, see Nevertheless put a lively take on the tired genre.
Unfortunately, the majority of the album does not follow suit. ‘It’s Me’ contains plenty of piano that bears a resemblance to Jack’s Mannequin, but without the characteristic energy and melody. Likewise, ‘Perfect Chemistry’ has the sort of slowly-sung verse and drawn-out chorus reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World, but without the emotional and lyrical depth. Unfortunately, the band’s Christian roots do not lend them any lyrical inspiration---unoriginal lines like “I may not be her perfect chemistry/ But I can love her like you” clutter the entire album, some tinged with spirituality and some not. ‘Let It Fall’ could pass for a Relient K b-side, with vocalist Josh Pearson’s delivery of lyrics about needing God for fulfillment muddied by shoddy production. Furthermore, pacing is also an issue. ‘Time’ is an impressive temporal manipulation---its 3:15 runtime manages to drag on excruciatingly long, never leading to a climax. Despite the album’s sub-40 minute runtime, the album still feels bloated with filler.
If there is a singular issue that plagues Live Like We’re Alive
, it’s Nevertheless’s inability to put a unique or creative spin on their music. Nothing distinguishes the album from its influences besides its inferior quality, thus leaving Live Like We’re Alive
feeling like a collection of stolen b-sides. That’s not to say the release is bad, because it’s perfectly inoffensive. But this still leaves a fundamental question: Why listen to this album and not one of its superior influences"