Monday, 29 August 2011

The Living End - 'The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating' - Review

I've just listened to it for the fourth time and it has now well and truly sunk in: The Living End's new album is fucking incredible. Having scored an enormous hit with their debut album back in 1998, the band have gradually moved further away from their early rockabilly-infused punk into a broader territory of more mainstream alternative rock. But on the new album this shift in style certainly doesn't blunt the impact of the songs. 'The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating' is the band's sixth album and sees the strength of their output expand with even more power and scope.

The record opens with 'In The Morning', a tale of breaking free from suburban misery powered by a pulsing rhythm and providing a brilliantly energetic yet thoughtful introduction to the album. But even this burst of vibrancy only sounds like a mere warm up to the incredible 'Heatwave'. A blistering and powerful highlight of the band's career, 'Heatwave' thrives with urgency and comes complete with an intense anthemic chorus. Elsewhere 'Machine Gun' combines a fat, menacing riff with a Clash-like skank, and 'Song For The Lonely' mixes a 'Baba O Riley'-esque loop with an electrifying riff similar to AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' and incorporates it into another infectious rhythm. One of the album's lyrical themes is the battle of the underclass against the powers-that-be, and these sentiments are reiterated in the chorus of 'Song For The Lonely': "We always knew that we would win the war. We never knew what we were fighting for". During the course of this album, the sound recalls late Bad Religion, AC/DC, The Clash, Green Day, Foo Fighters and various other great bands but never once comes across as imitation or bandwagon-hopping, for this album is undoubtedly and distinctively TLE. Chris Cheney's use of the guitar chorus pedal expands the strength and scope of the songs throughout this album, while his voice is commanding and exhilerant. 'Away From The City' features another mighty staccato riff and more tight, driving rhythms, delivered with a rip-roaring fury while 'United' brings an irresistable melody and another huge chorus. 

But it isn't just the crunching riffs and thrilling guitar solos that shine here. There are moments of thoughtful reflection and wonderful subtlety that give the album another dimension, such as the stunning 'For Another Day' with its heartfelt resplendence and touching lyrics (“There’s no limit to what we can achieve, every moment here is a moment to be seized"). The album was written after the death of Chris Cheney's father, and inevitably the emotions have inspired the more tender moments on this album. 'Universe' is probably the finest of these moments: catchy, powerful and impassioned with a dazzling tune that will stay in your head for years to come. Green Day would kill for a song like this. 

The lead single and title track rounds off the album with a bang, impressing with its massive "whoa"'s and a fierce galloping rhythm that leaves you hungry for more. As the album concludes, it becomes clear that The Living End have made their best album in over a decade. There's massive choruses, face-melting guitar solos, powerful riffs, airtight rhythms, and some of the best rock anthems you will hear this century. The band's sound has developed and matured, yet their passion and impact has not dimmed one bit and neither has their rousing spirit. 

Buy this album. 9/10

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