Review Summary: letlive. is a preverbal chemist on If I’m the Devil…, and they are doing a lot of experimentation with many chemicals not in their wheelhouse. Some mixtures work better than others to say the least.
Experimentation is an essential element to any artist. Experimenting with the right elements of a band’s sound can create such classics as Rush’s album 2112, masterpieces still commemorated decades later. However, experimenting can also create something notorious in all the wrong ways such as Metallica’s album St. Anger, a confusing mess of a record that leaves fans begging for sounds of albums prior. I can guarantee this album is no St. Anger, but it's no 2112 either.
The album starts off with “I’ve Learned to Love Myself”, a song that in all rights isn't bad, however it doesn't succeed in opening the album properly. “Le Prologue” opened up Fake History screaming at you Jason Butler, letlive.’s lead singer, is going to, “take the place of God,” and in “Banshee (Ghost Fame)”, the song that opens The Blackest Beautiful, Jason screams at you he, “swallowed pride till I felt sick”. In “I've Learned to Love Myself” Jason sings, not screams, “I’ve learned to Love Myself”. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand which of these quotes is different from the others. The song tries to make a grandiose overture of sorts with strings, and a song which leads to a crescendo for a majority of its length, and just when you think the song will go into the screaming, wild guitars, and relentless paced drumming of previous albums, it slows down and fades away… Not the way one would expect a letlive. album to start.
This album in general is not what one would expect a letlive. album to be. Never before would one have thought to hear the the bouncy “Elephant” made by the same band who created songs such as “Day 54”, and “27 Club”, and “A Weak Ago” sounds more akin to an evil villain’s theme to a new Disney movie with its angry, yet heavily blues-esque style. The former is in actuality a pleasant, energetic, fun song to listen to, yet I had to separate the band name from the music before heavily scrutinizing the song. Many people can't separate the music from the name attached to it, this task was even hard for myself, but once one does said task they may consider this album isn't bad, just different.
This album definitely has positives going for it. If I’m the Devil… is bar none letlive.’s catchiest record. Almost every song’s chorus would be ideal to scream at a concert along with everyone else in the venue. Lionel Robinson shows of his intricate chops on the drums throughout a good majority of this record, and the guitar work sounds very nice. On top of that, “Good Mourning, America”, and “Another Offensive Song” dish out some very meaningful and well written lyrics from Jason Butler. There is not a despicable song on this record, contrary to what one might think after reading how the description of “I’ve Learned to Love Myself” earlier in this review, heck, the heavily soulful “Foreign Cab Rides” was a very surprising gem of a track. That song is some amazing “soul punx”, the term of which the band love to use when describing their style. If I’m the Devil… is, in fact, a great record.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, this album is no classic. “Who You Are Not” is forgettable, and “Copper Colored Quiet” is an ineffective closer. Vocals overpower the instruments on almost every chorus, the bass is nonexistent, and good majority of songs seem repetitive. Even with the band name separated from the music; this album still has flaws. With the name letlive. attached to this record… there is a feeling that almost everything this record attempts to do doesn't live up to its predecessors. The aforementioned “Copper Colored Quiet” doesn't even lay a finger on “Day 54”, and “27 Club” as a closer, or as a song in general. Jason doesn't scream half the amount of time he screamed on albums prior, and as a whole, the album doesn't have the chaotic energy that defined the sound of Fake History and The Blackest Beautiful. However, when there is those moments of chaos, such as the chorus of “Good Mourning, America”, and “Another Offensive Song” the album greatly improves. That's the biggest flaw with this record. It could've been great. A majority of people's minds will leave the album not thinking the album was the masterpiece it in all rights could have been if the whole album was more like the two aforementioned songs, instead people will be thinking that there should've been more moments of chaos, more punk than soul, not more soul than punk.
letlive. tried to invent the definitive “soul punx” experience. Instead letlive. Released a mixed bag of jellybeans, while there are some awesome flavors in said mixed bag, no one likes every flavor jelly bean do they"
Good Mourning, America
Foreign Cab Rides
Another Offensive Song