Album Review
Letlive - The Blackest Beautiful Album Cover

Letlive - The Blackest Beautiful

Reviewed by
letlive.The Blackest Beautiful
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: July 9th 2013
Sometimes you may listen a record, and not really “get it” on your first listen. It could be that its message is a tough one to grasp, or that there’s way too much going on it for you to handle on merely your first listen. Or it could be both of those things, which is exactly how I would describe third record (and second on Epitaph, if you include the re-release of sophomore album Fake History) The Blackest Beautiful by CA post-hardcore band Letlive. I managed to get a copy of Fake History when the band was still signed to Tragic Hero records in 2010, and it was one of the strangest, yet one of the best records I’ve ever heard. The band combined a lot of genres together, while still remaining post-hardcore at the “core” of their sound, so to speak. To call them a post-hardcore band would be sugar-coating it, because they’re really much more than that. They’re pop-rock, pop-punk, alternative-rock, jazz, blues, R&B, and melodic hardcore. They are an amalgamation of plenty of genres. It sounds really strange on paper, but when put into action, letlive make it work. This is a sound all their own, so if this your first experience with the band, don’t listen to this record once and disregard it. It may be really hard to digest at first, and seem quite off-putting, but really spend some time with this album (and all of their albums). Listen to every song, but I don’t mean put it on as background. Immerse yourself in letlive’s world, with vocalist Jason Butler as your guide. Listen to this record with an open mind, and you may find yourself enjoying it, possibly loving it. This band (and their records) are meant to be listened to once and thrown on your shelf. They’re meant to be listened to over and over until they get worn out. They’re meant to be enjoyed for years to come, and for all you know, it may take a couple years for this album to truly “connect” with you. For myself, the record took a couple of days to really sink in, but that’s because I played it constantly, whether it was at home, or at work. I was delving into the record constantly, trying to see and hear what Butler and co. are trying to convey through this record. Now that I have a physical copy of it, and I can see the lyrics right in front of me, the record seems to talk about America and how it’s “the blackest beautiful.” At least, that’s what I think the record is trying to say.

Before I even say anything else, yes, we all know how the production isn’t all that great, but personally, I don’t mind it. It’s not perfect, but it feels as though that was intentional. Letlive don’t need pristine production to be a great band. In fact, the record comes through rather clear even with the muddy production. If plenty of other bands did it, it wouldn’t work out so well, but letlive is an exception. It helps to their advantage, because it immediately jumps out at you. It may be lacking, but it doesn’t hinder the record whatsoever to me. Speaking of things jumping out at you, their sound jumps out at you immediately as well, right from the first minute or so of opening track “Banshee (Ghost Fame).” This song was the first track released from the record, and this song was definitely a grower. It was really odd, but I love this song. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the record. It definitely shows off the band’s unique and charismatic style of post-hardcore. Within that, one thing that really sticks out is Butler as a vocalist and lyricist. His vocals are all over the map, from ferocious screams to catchy choruses. I know I’m not the only who hears Michael Jackson in his vocal delivery at times, right? He has such a knack for catchy hooks and melodies, it’s unreal. It’s great, because he (along with the rest of the band) are seamlessly able to combine catchy choruses with aggressive post-hardcore, and tracks like “Empty Elvis,” really show this off. He also employs a really awesome spoken word type of vocal delivery on a few tracks, too, such as the opening of third track on “White America’s Beautiful Black Market,” and closing track “27 Club.” On the latter track, he has a bit of an outro, so to speak, and it’s really interesting. He just rambles on about religion and then says goodbye to the listener, so to speak, and I really like that. The main focus of this record, however, is just that – his lyrics. The instrumentation is definitely ambitious, and unique, but Butler’s trying to make a statement, and maybe that’s why the production is not perfect.

For the most part, Butler’s a very good writer, and one of my favorite parts on the record comes in the form of the chorus on fifth track “The Fear Fever,” which goes, “Cause there's a comfort in being scared when you're the only one who dared / To make the gun smoke black in a white washed town so they know it was me.” There are plenty of moments like this elsewhere on the record, and there may be some misses, such as in “The Dope Beat,” but for the most part, the record is quite solid. At least, as far as lyrics go, anyway. They also seem to tell a story as well. I don’t know if this was intentional, but knowing them, it most likely was. It seems to tell a story of some kind, and it definitely goes back to the theme of the record, America being the blackest beautiful, or a beautiful wasteland, if you will. The story seems to be that of a man who’s living his life within this wasteland.

While the production is what most people talk about as being the weakest point of the record, I don’t really agree. I mentioned that it seems intentional, and if anything, it adds to the experience, because it’s so unique and strange. The record itself is great, so it’s easy to overlook. But for me, the weakest point of the record isn’t anywhere in the record at all, but rather, something about it. The record seems way too fast, even though it is 45 minutes long. It just feels way too rushed, but that’s due to the frantic and chaotic nature of the songs. There aren’t too many songs on the record that are “quiet,” but rather, just a couple. The record doesn’t have any time to breathe, but maybe that’s intentional, too. Letlive clearly want to make peoples’ heads turn, and if your head didn’t turn with 2010 (or 2011)’s Fake History, your head will turn on this record. If you’re a fan of post-hardcore, you don’t want miss this. However, it may be quite different for you, even if you are a fan of the genre. This isn’t a record that you should listen to once and forget about, like I said earlier on in the review. Take the time to get to know this record, because it’ll become one of your favorites if you’re taking it in the right way. You certainly won’t regret it.

Recommended If You LikeGlassjaw, Underoath, Thrice, August Burns Red, post-hardcore, uniqueness, bands with great and meaningful lyrics

Additional Information
Track Listing:
1. Banshee (Ghost Fame)
2. Empty Elvis
3. White America’s Beautiful Black Market
4. Dreamer’s Disease
5. That Fear Fever
6. Virgin Dirt
7. Younger
8. The Dope Beat
9. The Priest and Used Cars
10. Pheromone Cvlt
11. 27 Club

Letlive is:
Jason Aalon Butler – vocals
Jeff Sahyoun – guitar, production
Jean Nascimento – guitar
Ryan Jay Johnson – bass

This review is a user submitted review from justbradley. You can see all of justbradley's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
10:39 PM on 08/05/13
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FTank's Avatar
it'll become one of your favorites if you're taking it in the right way
and another review judging people if they don't like this album.
12:05 PM on 08/06/13
Devil In My Bloodstream
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No Avatar Selected
and another review judging people if they don't like this album.

With every reason.
Its an amazing album.
If you don't enjoy it you're not listening right

But to each their own I guess
02:05 PM on 08/06/13
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FTank's Avatar
With every reason.
Its an amazing album.
If you don't enjoy it you're not listening right

But to each their own I guess
It's ridiculous to criticize a different opinion like that.
11:46 PM on 08/07/13
Registered User
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06:16 PM on 08/09/13
Recommend me new music
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CrypticHistory's Avatar
It's ridiculous to criticize a different opinion like that.
Pretty much. I thought the album was a huge letdown. I couldn't stand the auto-tuned chorus on every single song. And I'm usually pretty open-minded, but in this case there is absolutely no reason to auto-tune Jason's voice, it just reduces the power that it normally holds.
03:17 PM on 08/11/13
Kevin Brewer
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kevindadbrewer's Avatar
I think the album is great, but has too much low end, it takes away from the guitar work a bit. I get annoyed by the fact that I have to change the EQ every time I listen to this album, but nonetheless a great record.
09:36 PM on 08/11/13
Registered User
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SavageKenny's Avatar
Great Review
05:03 AM on 08/16/13
Je suis l'Alpha et l'Oméga
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WeltallAY's Avatar
Pretty much. I thought the album was a huge letdown. I couldn't stand the auto-tuned chorus on every single song. And I'm usually pretty open-minded, but in this case there is absolutely no reason to auto-tune Jason's voice, it just reduces the power that it normally holds.

My feelings too. This review makes me feel like I'm missing out on something great but combining your reasons and what is frankly the worst production I ever heard I simply cannot listen to tho album without getting a headache. It's really a shame, they should at least try to have someone remaster this.
02:19 AM on 01/26/14
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FTank's Avatar
Coming back to this album later, I really do like it quite a bit. The production's not good, but I can at least listen to it....unlike Young New England

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