If I’m The Devil… is the fourth studio album from Los Angeles post-hardcore crew Letlive. The band had a lot to live up to in following 2013’s The Blackest Beautiful, and they have succeeded immensely, though it is a slightly different Letlive. to before.
Leading you in with I’ve Learned To Love Myself and Nü Romantics, the album is much more symphonic in places than The Blackest Beautiful, introducing the keyboard as a more central element. The first song seemingly addresses the album itself, with Jason Butler explaining how he is allowing his political views to proudly front his identity with “the mask I used to wear is now becoming my face“. The soul elements that have always been prevalent within Letlive. are now more equally balanced against their post-hardcore aspect, encouraging this towards being the most thoughtful record they have ever produced.
It’s with lead single Good Mourning America that Letlive. kick back into more familiar territory. It’s a slap in the face, an unapologetic wake-up call made even more poignant by the horrifying events occurring with America only days after the album’s release. It’s brutally honest and powerful, a rally against corruption; and it is monumental.
Who You Are Not slows down the pace again whilst acting as an incredible demonstration of Butler’s unrivaled vocal capabilities. It’s clear that Letlive. have perfected their vocal styles, set flawlessly against their eclectic instrumentals. A Weak Ago opens with a riff that calls Nirvana to mind as the band continue to weave between genres, disregarding labels as much in music as in life.
One of the reasons If I’m The Devil… is so impressive is that it is indomitably set against modern day issues, but also a record that is incredibly personal. Butler comes to terms with his role as a role model and bastion against inequality, and A Weak Ago expresses his anxieties in fulfilling this role. Foreign Cab Rides is cryptic to the extent that it is hard to guess it’s true relevance to the album, an awkward point in an otherwise accessible album. It showcases some beautiful clean vocals from Butler, but fails to offer anything new.
Reluctantly Dead is another pinnacle of the album, a song with a strong concept of a corrupt authoritative figure struggling with their own humanity. This is songwriting at its finest. Letlive. are a band that can tackle some of the most difficult and confused material and resolve it into an almost painfully understandable format.
If I’m The Devil… closes on a heavier note than it began – conscientiously, if not musically. Another Offensive Song is the heaviest track on the record, and ironically discusses how a song is never enough. Letlive. make it abundantly clear that just listening to, or evening writing a song won’t change the world. This is the call to action against corruption, and it’s enough to get anyone going.
Title track If I’m The Devil… and final track Copper Colored Quiet are an excellent duo. As Butler brings the album title into clarity with “If I’m the devil, you’re the reason” it becomes clear that Letlive. are prepared to take flak from the media and the mainstream to stand up against corruption. Copper Colored Quiet hauntingly repeats the consequences of inaction from an outside perspective. “We all came to watch your world as it burns.”
If I’m The Devil… is an astonishing album. Whilst it’s not as auditorily heavy as Letlive. have been in the past, it is far more impactful. The more open Letlive. become with their material, the more impressive they become. Transcending genres and expectations, If I’m The Devil… might be the best album you hear this year, and if not that, it’s probably still the most important one.