We open with the ominously titled ‘There Is Nothing Left Part 1’- for the opening track you’d hope this was a lie. Luckily it is and we are blasted into ‘The Hand Of John L. Sullivan’, with its furious kit fills and fiddle/flute riffing, it takes us back to the days of ‘Drunken Lullabies’, but with its ballad like bridge section, still shows they can grasp both ends of the spectrum, even within the same song. ‘Welcome To Adamstown’ is a little weirder, with some of Frank Turner’s influence on their sound being shown in those early chords before the chorus, maybe picked up from their experience supporting him on tour? This track also reminds us of Dave King’s… distinctive… vocal style, such as his childlike pronunciations (dere instead of there, for example), but thus far we’ve yet to hear the classic ‘ahh’ after every line, which is a bonus I suppose.
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‘Reptiles (We Woke Up)’ marks a sudden change of tone into a sing-along ballad that will have arenas chanting straight away. ‘The Days We’ve Yet To Meet’ is where the cliché’s start poking through, with some of those charming fiddle riffs becoming slightly grating, and the every-other-beat snare drum almost physically knocking a hole into your brain. Unfortunately, this lull also happens to coincide with Nathen Maxwell’s only lead vocal duties of the album, and honestly, he should stick to backing vocals. Luckily, before it gets too much, we are greeted with the delightful title track, which could genuinely be a piece of traditional music for about the first 30 seconds. It’s chord sequences, perfectly mixed guitar and intensely catchy chorus create the most satisfying song on the album, which doesn’t go over the top with the punk or the folk.
‘The Last Serenade’ and ‘The Guns Of Jericho’ are more slow, sing-along tracks. While the ‘ahh’ vocal addition is definitely not gone forever (every time King says ‘Jericho’, for example), it’s played down hugely on this album, giving a welcome break from, for example, the grinding annoyance of its use in the Drunken Lullabies album. ‘Crushed (Hostile Nation)’ is another clear reference to the bands Irish routes, with Irish scales dominating the vocal melody of the introduction, over an accordion drone. It’s still able to burst into an upbeat tune that could easily be the theme to an episode of Scooby-Doo or something. A guitar solo is attempted towards the end, but we won’t talk about that. ‘Hope’ is filled with yet another sing-along chant, with the build up throughout the track leading to a huge finale, littered with snare fills and backing vocals.
01. There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1
02. The Hand Of John L. Sullivan
03. Welcome To Adamstown
04. Reptiles (We Woke Up)
05. The Days We’ve Yet To Meet
06. Life Is Good
07. The Last Serenade (Sailors and Fisherman)
08. The Guns Of Jericho
09. Crushed (Hostile Nations)
11. The Bride Wore Black
12. Until We Meet Again
As the album winds to a close, the pace picks back up, with that every-other-beat snare pattern being decorated with quite a rock ‘n’ roll-esque rolling pattern supporting a track that really doesn’t stand out from the album at all, essentially using virtually every single trademark of their sound they possibly can. ‘Until We Meet Again’ is a nice way to end, it takes the pace back down again, but it is reminiscent and lyrically the best track on the album. In a similar way to the title track, it doesn’t overdo its influences and cements itself as its own song, not a pastiche of other styles.
Life Is Good is a cheerful album, there are no bad moments per-se, though there isn’t anything as memorable as some of the highlights from their impressive back catalogue
Life Is Good is out now via Vanguard/Spinefarm.