Since coming out in America towards the end of last year, a lot of hype has swelled around the release of letlive.’s latest (third in total) album over here, mainly off the back of their recent raucous and riotous UK shows. Certainly, live, they are a force to be reckoned with – a visceral ball of rage that knows neither boundaries nor limits. If you’re in the same room as the LA five-piece, then expect to become involved in their onstage – or, perhaps more aptly, offstage – shenanigans.
Such visceral, uncontrolled energy is difficult to capture and replicate on record – but somehow they’ve managed it. That said, Fake History is much more than just a barrage of blundering, blistering noise. Its 14 tracks – this UK version comes with three bonus songs – are incredibly textured. The nuances that temper the likes of Casino Columbus, an otherwise savage sing-along anthem, lend this album a sense of intricate musical multi-dimensionality that’s not been utilised in punk so well since Refused’s seminal third album, The Shape of Punk to Come, was released in 1998.
There have been numerous comparisons to that Swedish post-hardcore troupe thrown at letlive., as well as mentions of other acclaimed pioneers of the genre such as Glassjaw and At the Drive-In. But Fake History firmly establishes letlive. as their own beast, not the offspring of another. Le Prologue’s short, snappy introduction slowly explodes before segueing seamlessly into the first song proper, The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion: a furious, snarling indictment of peoples’ willingness to be easily led. Muther, replete with its impassioned and jazzy, swingy piano-led denouement, addresses a devastating aftermath of infidelity. We the Pros and Cons bursts with vicious, violent energy yet retains a beautifully melodic edge; and the seething Day 54 confronts not just mortality but all the decisions we – perhaps blindly – make before we kick the bucket.
Rather than an acting as an indictment of modern society and all its ills, Fake History simply asks the listener to take stock of the world around them and to form their own opinions about it. Far from didactic or preachy, it’s a lesson in the pure power of music. Pay no attention to the words that Jason Butler sings and you’ll still feel these songs course through your blood. Listen to them, and your mind – as well as your eyes and your heart – will be held wide open.
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