Overall Score: 8/10 Grow-on-you value: 9/10 Breaking down new doors: 7/10 Fluidity: 8/10 Pros: Strong structure | Fluid transition between musical styles | Drumming Cons: Considerably improved on the model but not broken much new ground
The third studio album from letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful was released early this year to a sea of anticipation, which is perhaps not surprising with letlive’s growing popularity due in much to their acclaimed live performances and the success of their well-received second studio album Fake History.
Fake History has become a staple of my music listening since it came out so I was extremely excited to get my hands on The Blackest Beautiful and give my ears a repetitive beating with it to see whether it could raise the bar.
From a first listen going straight into ‘Banshee (Ghost Fame)’ The Blackest Beautiful seems to pick up straight from where Fake History left off with the ferocious complexity of the songs and Jason Butler’s emotive vocals bringing across the unique sound you expect from letlive. but once I had listened to the album a bit more I started to hear some important differences.
As well as all the standard content you would expect from letlive. – musical complexity released with bags chock-full of energy and the intense vocals right at the forefront, delivered with The Blackest Beautiful there is a clearer focus and definition introduced. This has been delivered by a stronger cohesive performance from the whole band, often in Fake History the music, although great in itself seemed overshadowed by the vocals. In particular the drumming has become more prominent throughout the album taking a leading role, taking me at least to unconsciously and uncontrollably toe tap and head nod along with the whole album. This clarity has also enabled the vocals to continue to do the intense forays without taking the focus away from the music. In support of this the quality of the sound production has improved on this record compared with Fake History which brings the clearer and tighter feel throughout.
There is also an increase of catchy choruses throughout the album, in particular with ‘Empty Elvis’ and ‘That Fear Fever’ sticking out for me, you just can’t help but sing along to them and that will continue into their live shows. This album also highlights how letlive. have refined their style to more fluidly move from delicate sections with cleaner vocals to intense brutality without it feeling awkward, this is particularly noticeable in ‘White America’s Beautiful Black Market’. This means you can easily listen to this album on repeat uncovering new layers not noticed before as well as enjoying the deep quality of the delivery.
My personal favourite track is the seven and a half minute epic of ‘27 Club’ finishing up the album, with a cracking intro you will listen to over and over again and a great breakdown to close it out. Although I don’t feel there are any particularly weak songs on the album, I do find myself often skipping ‘Virgin Dirt’ but that may just be me.
Previously critics and fans alike have been looking to compare letlive. and other bands and other styles but with this release, letlive. are now cementing their own sound which I expect to see bands coming along trying to replicate and we will draw comparisons back to letlive.. If Fake History was the raw structure to letlive.’s sound then The Blackest Beautiful is the next iteration refining that sound, I am interested and excited to see what the next chapter looks like for letlive. and how they will continue to progress and adapt their sound, there is plenty more to come from this group of talented and creative individuals.