Over the years, through phenomenal lyrical skill and a unmatched
work ethic, Ted Leo has placed himself in the forefront
of an ever-growing group of great indie rock songwriters. His
style, political beliefs and the forcefulness within his playing
make him an amalgamation of The Clash's Joe Strummer
and Elvis Costello for a generation too young to remember
either of these giants in the prime of their careers.
On Living With The Living, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists
first release since 2004's fantastic Shake The Sheets and
moving to independent label legend Touch and Go, the band pulls
out all the stops, albeit with mixed results; one thought came
to me when listening to Living, too much of a good thing
is exactly that
The line "In every cradle there's a grave now/ in every
owner there's a slave now" from the song "Army Bound"
sets the tone for the entire body of Living. Anyone that
has listened to Ted Leo's solo offerings or the superb records
made with bassist David Lerner and drummer Chris Wilson
under The Pharmacists moniker, knows that there is always a political
tone to the music. That is fine, especially in the world climate
of today. But with Living it is kind of like killing a
fly with a machine gun.
Please, don't take anything I've written here the wrong way,
Living With The Living is a good, solid rock 'n roll record.
The track " A Bottle of Buckie" gives a nod to Ted's
deep love for his Irish heritage by showcasing the penny whistle
and acoustic guitar, both instruments used to great effect by
fellow Emerald Isle descendents, Flogging Molly. "Colleen"
is a great tale of a lost girl strolling casually through her
life trying to forget its emptiness. "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb"
is a mostly spoken word tirade against the war, our current president
and the government brainwashing of American youth in order to
create soldiers and support for a lie. Moreover, to accent the
point, the song ends with the sound of planes flying overhead.
There are many musical genres covered by Leo and his exceptional
rhythm section within the fifteen songs the make up Living:
Reggae, punk, power pop, Thin Lizzy inspired hard rock,
folk; they're all here for the listener to decipher. Are Ted Leo
+ The Pharmacists all of these things or none of them? Who knows...
but two things are very clear on Living With The Living,
Ted Leo + The Pharmacists are a great band and they have something
Living does stumble occasionally, but by and large it
is as quality a record as any Ted Leo has released before it.
It is heavy at times, melodic always, and heartfelt to a blistering
degree. This album will impress the fans that the band already
has and make the people who hadn't bothered to pick up a Ted Leo
+ The Pharmacists record before wake up and give them a listen.
This band deserves that much.
-Danny R. Phillips
1. Fourth World War
2. The Sons of Cain
3. Army Bound
4. Who Do You Love?
6. A Bottle Of Buckie
8. La Costa Brava
9. Annunciation Day/Born On Christmas Day
10. The Unwanted Things
11. The Lost Brigade
12. The World Stops Turning
13. Some Beginner's Mind
14. The Toro And The Toreador
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