Sunday, August 12, 2012

The view from the bottom or what was said and what they threw at us

Lit have been largely absent since 2004 - between death in the family that same year, and the loss of original drummer Allen Shellenberger to a brain tumor in 2009 - if they got back to making music again, it would be riddled with catharsis, for certain.  "The view from the bottom" starts off with a purposeful mission statement "Let's stop messing around / It's all about tonight / it's all about right here and right now!".  The band dips into introspection a fair deal on this disc, but an opening like that makes it very clear they don't believe in wallowing in the past, but in making every moment count.

The exuberance of the first track is followed by one that speeds things up even more with "You Tonight" - it's a brazen, sleazy, four-on-the-floor hookup+party jam.  It takes talent to make such an otherwise mundane subject come across with this much sparkling, effervescent glee as they do in this track.   "Same Shit, Different Drink" forms an amusing current-day homage to past songs (see line "My car is in the front yard / I think I've been here before" which is a sly, winking homage to 1999's "My own worst enemy") and yet is still a track shot through with some self-reflection aka the "Wait, are we really doing this again?" feeling that permeates the lyrics.

"The Broken" is a perfect where-we've-been track - again with blunt-but-purposeful statements like "Getting used to the view from the bottom / kicked in the balls but man we've still got 'em".  Borrowing a drum beat straight out of late 80's Def Leppard-era metal, wrapping it in more up-to-date glam rock riffs, the band paints a colorful picture of friends beaten down by hardship, but pushing on anyways, in one of this disc's more introspective moments.  And keen as ever to keep the balance when held up against the frat-boy yowlings that start the disc off, the plaintive "She Don't Know" is a proudly heart-worn-on-sleeve "missing her" ballad.  This has long been Lit's strength as a band and as musicians - they have enough of a variety in subject matter and feeling to keep things from getting boring - and even "bad boys" though they are, they know how to show a softer side.

Tilting the scales again back in the other direction, the tempo kicks back up with "Nothing's Free" - true sentiment even without a bouncy rock song attached to it.  Lead singer A.J. Popoff sings with a conviction that one only expects of a band, a person, whichever, that has been doing this for 20+ years - "I found out the price of being free / Yeah it cost me everything" - and as for tilting the scales, well, it's hard to miss the venom when he snarls "Now I'm finally free to be myself / and she's free to go to hell."  Indeed.

"Partner in Crime" sounds like the spiritual sequel to 1999 track "Miserable" a track perhaps better known for the bizarre music video with a giant Pam Anderson devouring each of the band members whole.  It's another song that makes up Lit's stock-in trade - sleazy, but in a catchy and fun way.  Not an easy trick to pull off.

"Here's To Us" is a string-soaked ode to good friends, good times, and remembering the best of them.  It is a tune made all the more poignant with a bittersweet reference to what is surely one (or all) of them seeing Shellenberger in the hospital while he battled his illness.  "The Wall" continues this reflective vein even more and strikes a balance between living in the moment and not forgetting the good times you've already been through.

Really, this whole album can be summed up with one line "We did it all wrong but we're doin' alright".  As mentioned before, some of the themes in the tunes are well-worn and often-touched upon by artists from many genres.  When that happens it's all about the "does this latest incarnation sound good, and still makes you want to hear more" question.  With The view from the bottom, the answer is most definitely yes.

No comments:

Post a Comment