letlive. – ‘If I’m The Devil…’

By Ben Tipple

“My world was on fire, way before it was meant to burn,” letlive. vocalist Jason Aalon Butler sings on ‘If I’m The Devil…’ closer ‘Copper Colored Quiet’. It marks the final moments of a record that sees him explore abandonment, unrest and hate. And he’s found his voice. Not averse to speaking his mind, this – their fourth full-length – provides a new platform for his inner contemplations. Retaining the lyrical candour of their prior releases, it’s both their softest and heaviest album to date.

Soft in style and heavy in concept, ‘If I’m The Devil…’ sees a vocally restrained Butler present his anger through more considered means. Other than the occasional theatrical moment – the opening moments of ‘Good Mourning, America’ and the string sections on the album’s bookends – the frustration and inner turmoil is presented entirely in Butler’s anguished tones. The supporting instrumentation is more subtly complex than before, overlaying the frenzied song-structures with clearer melodies. The effectively titled ‘Another Offensive Song’ is the only time the record truly touches on the band’s hardcore sound.

Yet it’s not subdued. The sheer anger has been redirected, the emphasis firmly placed on the lyrics. The album’s force is housed in its pain, be it in the downtempo and sometimes sultry ‘Foreign Cab Rides’ or the insatiably catchy ‘Reluctantly Dead’. The songs’ compositions support and complement Butler’s troubles, confidently placing him more prominently at the forefront, yet remaining far from a one-man show.

‘If I’m The Devil…’ never feels forced or contrived, even in its most melodic or grandiose moments. At its most commercial sounding, it retains its fire through an unadulterated honesty and passion. Far from suggesting a watered down letlive., their fourth record is as powerful as all that has come before. ‘If I’m The Devil…’ is the sound of aggressive frustration. It’s an internal battle made public. It’s the irrefutable sound of letlive. and a world on fire.

BEN TIPPLE

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