The Levellers - Truth & Lies
There comes a point in a bands career that they're artistically bereft of any new ideas. With "Truth And Lies", an albums which title suggests more interest than that actual songs themselves, the Levellers seem to have reach that nadir where each idea is a rehash of a previous classic moment. In doing so the Levs have made an album that is not bad, but shockingly average.
"Last Man Alive" is the Levellers in stadium friendly mode. A driving beat and subtle reverb-ed piano sound like the soulless anthemic void of the Waterboys. It's energetic and will probably become a live favourite on forthcoming tours when most of the crowd are f**ked up on special brew, but it's far from a memorable moment. "Make You Happy" is being seen by many as the big comeback track since it picked up a number of plays on Radio 2, but listening to it it's clear that it's simply a rewrite of "Hope Street". A simple and effective song that the band have always delivered and in that ambiguous style it could be as much about a relationship as a song for the wider community.
"Confess" is one of the better tracks on the album. A trip hop beat and dub bass line back up the acoustic strumathon of Mark Chadwick. The fact that with these elements in place they manage to sound like the Levellers rather than Zero 7 is an achievement in itself. "Who's The Daddy" and "The Damned" have a mournful bitter quality to them which makes a change from the optimistic Levellers of yore. It's nothing that we haven't heard before, but at least they don't sound immediate and obvious rewrite's of former glories.
The bands that The Levellers used to tour with back in the day such as Chumbawamba and Asian Dub Foundation are still making music that seems relevant even if they're playing gigs to ever dwindling audiences. With the Levellers the fans are still there, as they probably always will be, but there comes a time when you need to step out of just being the Levellers and make yourselves relevant again.
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