Sitting down to write about letlive is a tough thing to do. Since the release of their debut album Fake History, they have established themselves as a bands who continually defy expectation. It is a trend that has continued with the fantastic If I’m the Devil… an album which shows them upping the soul side of their soul-punk sound.
However, pointing out that letlive have released another stunning piece of music almost feels like a waste of time. If you couldn’t see that coming, you’ve apparently been living under a rock for the last few years. Which isn’t to belittle their accomplishments, it’s just that they are that good.
No, what makes letlive a band worth talking about is that they make you want to talk about them. If I’m The Devil… is the ultimate proof that they have something to say and what they have to say is important.
That message was clear from first single ‘Good Mourning, America’ which opens with Butler declaring ‘we ain’t so different now are we? Said the cop to the killer inside of me.’ It’s a rallying cry of a song, one that stands up to police brutality and puts it on the same level as those they enact it against. The fact it’s also a brilliant piece of music almost comes secondary.
I spoke the other day about my discontent with the idea of Prophets of Rage coming back and providing a voice to a generation that they aren’t part of and in that article I pointed to letlive as being the real voice of that fight. At that point I hadn’t heard If I’m the Devil… and while I had full faith in letlive to deliver I hadn’t yet experienced just how powerful this album was.
For when you hear Butler declaring: ‘you believe that they came here to protect you, but see I would rather run. Cause now the law results in a death’ on ‘Reluctantly Dead’ or roaring ‘another big mouth poet screaming, but it’s never loud enough for them
to hear us when we’re all down here. So claw your way out’ on ‘Another Offensive Song’ in among extremely personal sounding tracks like ‘I’ve Learned to Love Myself’ and ‘Foreign Cab Rides’ you realise that this is a guy that lives this shit. It ain’t an act and even as a middle-class bloke who was making strawberry muffins when he got the chance to blare this album through a pair of headphones for the first time, I found myself wanting to follow on behind.
‘I want to indulge the art and the feeling, I want to feel comfortable and I want to feel creative. I’m not reticent to say anything that’s going to make people feel upset about the current state of affairs. I don’t care! I just don’t. People are being subjugated, people are being marginalised, they’re being disenfranchised and they’re being under-represented. People are dead, people are no longer breathing and six feet under because of the issues that I’m talking about, so I feel duty-bound to discuss them.’
That is another quote from Butler, this time not from a song but from an interview he gave with The Independent. It’s a quote that kind of sums it up. You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything letlive say or even particularly like their music (although honestly I would have to assume you were deaf). But that doesn’t change that this is an important band making important points in a way that resonates. They take huge ideas and blend it with the personal to make them understandable. If this generation needs a voice, then they could do a lot worse than letting it be Jason Aalon Butler.