“Dead bands are better off dead.” It’s the sort of rhetoric that has floated around the webosphere since the announcement that post-hardcore darlings Lifetime would be recording and releasing new material. It’s quite the crass statement too, but we’re not talking about a band that overstayed their welcome, pushed record sales, and/or hawked cheesy merchandise. And in this day and age, no matter how old you are, it is hard to escape the painfully trite shtick of marketing trends, music video rotation, and first-week sales. Sure, certain label-heads may be a little annoyed that the albumwas leaked a couple of weeks before it hit stores, and yes, maybe Lifetime is getting the sort of attention and scrutiny they probably would never have a decade ago- but strangely, when you juxtapose the music with this “sales package,” it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The music is, in a sense, “unsellable.” And herein lies the beauty; it never was, and often times, a writer can be left feeling a little goofy staking bold claims in its defense while contending with copious amounts of discussion and attention about something that probably never wanted it in the first place.
It has been said a couple times already but for the sake of slamming the door onto the now unconscious body, the précis one last time; Lifetime sounds as if the band never left. It’s the natural musical progression from Jersey’s Best Dancers (assuaging fears they may write something Jay-Z would want to mail in an intro to) and, besides the increased production value (which is a good thing), sounds every bit as good as its predecessor. There isn’t a whole lot of technical musicianship but there are plenty of up-tempo, fuss-free tunes that skate between crushing aggression and melodic ridges that became the band’s trademark sound (see songs like “Airport Monday Morning” and “Just a Quiet Evening”), all of which could easily trade places with “25 Cent Giraffes” or “Turnpike Gates.” The album’s highlights, “Haircuts & T-Shirts,” and “All Night Long” (re-recorded from their raw sounding 7” versions) are every bit as great as when “Young, Loud, and Scotty” first made its way through stereos. Lyrically, they tread on familiar ground- songs about friendships, landscapes, loves lost, and the people they share these stories with. It’s a remarkably personal listen- all the more rewarding when it never once sounds too smart, pretentious, or inane.
Rarely has “sticking to your guns” been so gratifying on so many fronts. The album is a reflection of the band’s outlook and personality- a throwback to simpler times, simpler politics, and a far more worthwhile way to spend 30 minutes. And while the magnifying glass that they’re under has become far larger, it is far less important in this case because the music and the connection it can have with its listener is still very much the same. So what if they still like to party like its 1999, and so maybe they’re a little better off these days, and maybe this whole reunion thing doesn’t last past next Wednesday, but honestly speaking, none of it matters in comparison to the sincerity of the music— and this is the attitude-embodiment of the band itself. Some bands like to talk about changing the landscape of music on different levels, and some like to claim their music will, but so few actually do.