Review Summary: Let It Be is a college rock staple that's a down-to-earth expression of pain, heartbreak, longing and the burning desire to break free, and succeeds due to fantastic songwriting and consistently energetic rock n' roll.
I vividly remember the first time Let It Be
graced my ears. Reviews like these make me wish that I reviewed albums chronologically from when I first heard them. Anyways, when I moved into college at the beginning of freshman year, I was in that summery and excited college mood, where I wanted to keep branching out musically but also wanted to try these staples of "college rock". I checked out canon albums like Murmur
and Violent Femmes
with limited success (especially the former). I stumbled upon Let It Be
with the help of RateYourMusic, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone Magazine; it's one of the highest-ranking alternative rock albums, and it's also very well-acclaimed by critics and pundits. And it seem more interesting than the other Let It Be
It was the first Tuesday of the academic year; back in that semester, I had relatively free Tuesdays with only two courses and a good amount of time in between. Because it was syllabus week, I had no real work and had most of the day off. But I still had to get all my books, and it's a long and hot walk to the off-campus bookstore when you're a lost freshman whose dorm is pretty far removed from that store. I needed some tunes and decided I wouldn't wait any longer before checking out Let It Be
, with minimal expectations. In the first three minutes of the iconic opener "I Will Dare" running through my headphones, I knew that this was the album I'd been waiting for. This is the college album that it's hyped up to be. As I went through it, I fell in love with each song; the thrilling punk tune "We're Comin' Out", the realism of "Unsatisfied", the odd KISS cover thrown in on "Black Diamond", the post-sexual revolutionary themes of "Androgynous", the heartbreak and emptiness of "Answering Machine", etc. I can go on, because each song felt really personal and shocking to me-even the imperfect ones (lookin' at you, "Gary's Got a Boner"). I was just going to pick up textbooks and grab some coffee, and I didn't want to pause this at all. Anytime I had to take my headphones out to talk to a newly-met friend or pay for the textbooks, I had to restart the song because it was so great and fresh. I loved this and I had a great rest of the day. I didn't want to go to Sociology 102 anymore; I just wanted to hear this again. By late August, this was the first album that genuinely blew my mind and changed my expectations for music that I'd listened to on the first try in a while. I don't give out perfect ratings often regardless, but it's increasingly rare that an album shocks me so much upon first listen that I'd award a perfect score to instantly. This changed that, and I listened to it a ton that week, and it's been on heavy rotation all throughout college.
Admittedly, the album isn't perfect and it has some flaws, despite this psuedo-nostalgia (it's only been a little over a year) and its array of amazing songs. Awarding it lower than a 9 seems unjust, given how bittersweet my memories with this album were and how it basically ignited my exploration into college rock and my revived interest in alternative rock. So while the sloppiness of songs like "Gary's Got A Boner" and "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" undermine the album's perceived perfection, this is still an essential staple. But enough-this perfectly captures the feelings of teenage angst that's too grown-up and real for a preteen to handle (just a tiny bit better than Blink-182 or Green Day, for that matter), and it captures the experiences of college: the heartbreak, the loneliness, the stress, the desire to just break free, sexual ambitions, and dissatisfaction. A partially connected note on "Unsatisfied" (I cannot give this song enough praise or credit): In the '60s, angry teens had "Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)" as an anthem for their dissatisfaction and desires, while '80s alternative kids had "Unsatisfied", showing that not a lot really changed for the youth within these times. These feelings of angst and heartbreak aren't unique to any generation though, and that's what makes Let It Be
so special and timeless; it never gets old, and it's always a bag of fun and tears. It's also only a bit over half an hour.