It’s easy to see The Blackest Beautiful as a louder, more aggressive big brother to Letlive.’s momentous previous record Fake History. Every ante has been upped – the tempos are faster, frontman Jason Butler is attacking vocal parts far more aggressively and we even bear witness to a tactfully dropped N-bomb (see White America’s Beautiful Black Market). But, beneath all that, this record is much more than a step up for Letlive. The Blackest Beautiful is a leap closer to solidifying the truly unique brand of post-hardcore that the boys deliver, and they’re screaming it loud and clear.
The record opens with Banshee (Ghost Fame) and as it drops so too does the line “We’re here to fulfill every one of your dreams”. The opening track gives a taste of a vibe that spreads itself across the entire record. It’s one step away from a metalcore or alternative influence, and two towards a punchier, more retro, perhaps even classically punk approach. Amidst the explosive screams and absolutely immense drum fills, our nostalgic senses tingle at the hint of a little Rage Against The Machine shining through.
As almost all tracks on The Blackest Beautiful do, the opener ends with a somber, soundbite-esque outro attached to the end. Each time this trick is pulled it creates a stunning contrast to the explosive opening of the following track – a fantastic tool employed to deliver a cohesive collection of tracks – exampled by the transition to next track Empty Elvis. It’s a rapid-fire indicator of how Letlive. is one of the most technical, spontaneous and energetic bands on the scene today, and have somehow still managed to one-up themselves here.
Letlive. – Empty Elvis
By the time we hit the midway point of the album, it becomes apparent that this album is a lot rawer than previous records. Lyrically, it reads as Letlive.’s bone to pick with the world. Musically, it’s the whole-body punch we would expect from a punk record. It’s deliciously political and tastefully controversial. It is at times both incredibly eloquent and absurdly blunt. Amidst the tactful metaphor of America’s Beautiful Black Market we hear the line “The Government’s sucking the dick of corporations”. Those aren’t words easily forgotten.
Things don’t remain as relentlessly fast-paced for the entire album. Virgin Dirt is the first song that doesn’t strike us like a lighting bolt. It’s slower, more melodic and places an emphasis on lyrical delivery. Vocal layering and gang vocals appear en masse. Even acoustic guitars make an appearance alongside whispered words through bared teeth. It’s such a visceral mix. It’s like we’re listening to the hearts and minds of the band explode onto vinyl.
Letlive. – Virgin Dirt
In typical Letlive. fashion, track selection does include quite a few rhythmically-geared, slower sing-alongs for the benefit of audiences. Of these, Dreamer’s Disease and Pheremone Cvlt appear the most noteworthy. The record finishes with the stunning 27 Club, an unbelievably catchy call-to-arms that will be screaming in your ears for days to come. Attached to this track is the last hurrah of an unknown character delivering a soliloquy, which adds a final flourish of theatricality to a fantastic record.
Though there is no equivalent to the brilliant Day 54 of Fake History here, and the somber side of the Letlive. spectrum may have benefitted from some bolstering, if the perfectly unique melding of blues overtones and post-hardcore heaviness of Letlive. attracted you in the past, then you can’t miss The Blackest Beautiful. This record is the real Letlive., the true voice of the LA five-piece screamed directly into our ears.
Listen: Letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful (Official Album Stream)
Watch: Letlive. discuss their new album