Three years ago, Letlive. delivered not only the finest album of their career to date, but the finest record of the decade. With minimal production, raw passion and some of the best songs to hit this millennium, the band carved their name in stone, (somehow) managing to further improve upon their modern-classic 2011 debut record ‘Fake History’. Now in 2016, the band are back with their latest effort ‘… If I’m The Devil’, a record not only more mature, but one capable of projecting the band to heights nobody could have predicted on that initial album run.
Honestly, where to start on ‘… If I’m The Devil’? Well, with the beginning. Right from the onset, any prior fan familiar with the band’s material over their previous two albums will feel a strong pull on the winds of change with restrained, orchestral opening number ‘I’ve Learned To Love Myself’, a largely clean, emotional rollercoaster of an introduction. A contemplative, retrospective and heart-wrenching performance from vocalist and all-round mastermind Jason Butler make the band’s intentions clear, and it’s here we find the true jewel in the crown that is Letlive.
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To describe Jason Butler as an absolute superstar would be an understatement. Chanelling Prince, Michael Jackson and the likes of Serj Tankian (and many more) in one fell swoop, his passion and unbridled fury flow throughout the record, switching from beautiful falsetto on tracks like ‘Nü Romantics’, to crooning over the smooth, Santana-style vibes of ‘A Weak Ago’, to the frantic, desperate screams of ‘Another Offensive Song’. As far as lyrics & lyricists go, Butler is up there with the absolute best in his field, with the latter track pushing listeners with sensitive topics pushed to their true limits. Not just content with providing vocal performances to make any lead singer weep, the band’s penchant for biting, controversial verses remains untouched within the group’s new architecture. With themes relating to the Black Lives Matter movement ingrained within the record’s structure, the listener certainly has more than enough to come to terms with here.
However, what can be said about Butler could just as easily be said for every single member of this revolving door of rag-tag Soul-Punk-Rockers. As mentioned previously, the band delivered some of the most infectious and challenging hardcore on their last record ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, it only makes sense to move on and master yet another genre, and within ‘… If I’m The Devil’, the band make strides to doing just that all over again. Incorporating much more ambient sound and electronics this time around, the band’s scope and ambitions are high here and boy, do they pay off in spades. As with Butler, the band’s ability to show restraint where others might not is palpable, and nowhere is this more evident than in drummer Lionel Robinson. An absolute powerhouse behind the kit, the stickman’s ability to showcase nuance and carefully judged subtlety only serves to shine even more in the record’s moment of pure, white hot aggression.
In ‘… If I’m The Devil’, Letlive. have captured a sound and dynamic that bands could only dream of pursuing after the kind of material they were previously creating. With the realisation that aggression, passion and fury isn’t exclusive to hardcore and fast-paced punk rock, time will only tell if Letlive. truly have the talent and ability to apply themselves even further, and not only top the world of the underground, but true superstardom as well.