ALBUM REVIEW: letlive. – ‘If I’m the Devil…’

letlive If I'm the Devil

letlive. are different, but I guess they always have been. It’s been tricky for music critics to pigeonhole them over the last decade and if If I’m the Devil… is anything to go by, that struggle will continue. The album skips through genres and styles like an intoxicated DJ at a wedding, and it’s fantastic.

Kicking things off at a steadier pace than we’re accustomed to for letlive. albums, I’ve Learned to Love Myself is a reflective, downbeat track that allows Jason Aalon’s Butler’s vocals, which are as strong as they’ve ever been, to shine. It isn’t too dissimilar to Fake History’s Le Prologue: a steady, rousing instrumental build with an excellent pay-off. However, as is the case for most of the album, Butler’s signature screams and shouts are muted; less aggressive, more articulate.

With a bassline that I never thought I would hear in a letlive. song, Nu Romantics is fast-paced with hints of ska: one of many shifts in style throughout If I’m the Devil…, and it’s welcomed. They have never been a band to play it safe.

The lead single, Good Mourning, America, possesses some of the best lyrics (no mean feat) in the band’s repertoire so far:

We ain’t so different now, are we
Very different, very different
Said the cop to the killer inside of me
I’ve heard your story boy, that shit gets old
We have the right to take your life so do just what you’re told

The track polarised many of the band’s fans when it was first released, but after a few listens, it comfortably sits alongside their finest work yet. They allow themselves to paint a story with the lyrics by putting them at the forefront of the production, pushing the instruments back to a supporting role. letlive. have always rallied against injustice and inequality with Good Morning, America being their most mature social commentary to date. They sound like they are sick of the bullshit and it works wonders for them here.

Who You Are Not is a weak point in an album of consistency. It lacks drive and the passion which has anchored letlive. for so long, sounding a little overproduced. Make no mistake, though, it’s still better than 99% of modern rock tracks you hear on the airwaves.

Back to brashness and a punky edge, A Weak Ago is one of IITD’s better tracks thanks to its intoxicating hooks and mischievous fretwork, which isn’t a phrase I think anyone has ever said before. It’s a little slower in tempo than its intro would suggest, but the California natives have been going at 100mph from day one, so they’ve earned the right to ease up on the gas. The trend continues with Foreign Cab Rides, an initially peaceful song that decides to kick it up to 11 to great effect in its closing minutes, rousing and enthralling at once.

Reluctantly Dead, the second single released from the album, shows that letlive. have no problems with conquering a more mainstream sound. It has its catchy hooks, driven drumwork, and competent guitar that doesn’t overshadow the overall themes of the lyrics:

You believe that they came here to protect you
But see I would rather run
Cause now the law results in a death

You believe that they came here to protect you
But see I am not the one
Cause I will be reluctantly dead

A punkier edge returns on Elephant, filled with the same signature rowdy backing vocals and frenetic guitar that letlive. are famous for. You think it’s an effective bridge between the middle of the album and its closing, more restrained, stages, but then Another Offensive Song shows up out of another to punch you between the eyes with the same anger and heaviness that letlive. have built a career out of. It’s one of their best out-and-out rock tracks, dabbling in punk at the same time. The chorus has one of the band’s catchier hooks to date, creating a song that will be first on the playlist when stuff needs to get done.

Transitioning into penultimate song on the album, If I’m the Devil, letlive. begin to wrap up their work with a patient build and thumping bass. Again, they seem to be going for more of a mainstream appeal with the album (which is not a bad thing) as the chorus for Devil seems familiar, but still distinctive. It really should have been the opener of the album; the running order is of IITD doesn’t work as well as it did on letlive.’s other works. Although it still stitches it all together well, it doesn’t seem to flow as organically as it did on Fake History and The Blackest Beautiful.

However, my personal highlight of IITD, and perhaps even across letlive.’s entire discography is Copper Colored Quiet, the closing track. Butler’s vocals have never been so pitch perfect and the instrumentals are experimental, almost tribal. It all combines to create their catchiest song to date; if you’re trying to show a friend what letlive. are all about it, include it on your playlist and put it on repeat until they get it.

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.