Levellers “Letters From The Underground”

Album Reviews | Aug 5th, 2008

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Record Label: On The Fiddle Recordings
Genre: Folk Punk
Band Link: link
Buy on Amazon.com: link

The Levellers are back with their 9th full-length release and I have to say, it’s probably their best album since Zeitgeist! The Levellers are one of my favorite bands and I have been looking forward to this release since Truth and Lies. While I liked that album a lot, I didn’t really like the production of it. It sounded like the producer cranked up all the volume settings and forgot to lower them when called for. This time around, they get help from Sean Lakeman and the album’s production is much better! There are 11 tracks in total and it was recorded at the band’s own studio, Metway Studios.

The UK folk punk band has always written politically-minded songs and that’s certainly the case with “Letters From The Underground.” This album contains a lot of great protest songs and The Clash would certainly be proud. The band covers such topics like America collapsing from within, school shootings, the London bombings, Health care, the media, government, etc. The only thing missing is an anti-religion song and they’d be all set!

The first song on the album is “Cholera Well,” which was available for a free download along with “A Life Less Ordinary.” The song starts off with the fiddle and a boot stomping beat. Then Mark starts to sing and after that, the song makes you want to throw a bar stool. The entire album makes you either want to dance & go crazy or begin a revolution…or maybe both! The band’s musical direction seems to have gone back to their roots with a more consistent folk punk album. Every song is brilliant in its own little way. I love the lyrics for “Death Loves Youth,” which is about losing someone way too early. “Before The End” is the album’s first single and I can see why. It’s probably my favorite song on the entire album and I can’t stop listening to that track. It just sounds like something that the Levellers haven’t done before. It’s a “love song but with a twist” according to Mark Chadwick. I like “Eyes Wide” because the way the song is structured, it makes me think of it as a Pirate Shanty. I’ve already heard “Burn America Burn” and “A Life Less Ordinary” and think they are amazing songs. The Levellers really know how to write catchy tunes with intelligent & thought provoking lyrics.

At first, I didn’t like “Behold of the Pale Rider” and thought it was the weakest link on the album but I take back that statement now. I think it’s a really strong song. I’m glad to see Simon share a lot of the singing duties on this album. He gets to sing lead in 3 tracks as opposed to 1 in “Truth and Lies.” “Accidental Anarchist” is a wonderful Levellers track that starts off with Jon’s crazy fiddle playing. I also think Mark’s vocals sounds the best on this track. If there has to be one complaint with this LFTU, it’s that it’s too damn short! It clocked in around 35 minutes and for a die hard Levellers fan that’s too short. Of course there’s a positive with that statement in that there’s no filler. I honestly can say there isn’t one track on here that is bad. I believe this album will be a favorite among fans, because I think it’s classic Levellers. “Letters From The Underground” is a rowdy rebel folk punk album and it truly is one of the best albums by the band!


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