REVIEW: THE LIFE AND TIMES – NO ONE LOVES YOU LIKE I DO (2012)
Since Cave In is stuck in a perpetual identity crisis and with the absence of bands like Failure and Hum, The Life and Times are one of the few bands still churning out quality space rock. Their last full length, 2009’s Tragic Boogie, showcased their ability to illuminate grand soundscapes while still remaining dark and subdued. Their latest effort, No One Loves You Like I Do, continues along the same groundwork while delving deeper into the human cosmos.
With a title like No One Loves You Like I Do and a first glance at the track listing, it may call to mind the flick 500 Days of Summer. Each track is named “Day One,” “Day Two,” etc. (skipping days four and seven), but they are listed out of numerical order. Bassist Eric Albert explains, “…we were all living in different cities. Since time was tight we wanted to get at least one song done per day.” However, given the overbearing, brooding, yet anticipating, lyrics, their own version of a non-linear forlorn love story isn’t a completely absurd assumption.
The album starts off with a very Failure-esque reverberation guitar intro and The Life and Times begin to trudge along like a more deliberate Queens of the Stone Age. In fact, The Life and Times sound like a spoonful of Failure and Queens of the Stone Age being heated together and injected. Not the sad-depressing-junky-needing-a-fix heroin connotation, but more the “I just lost my love and I’m going to turn to drugs for the first time” heroin image. You know, when it’s still fresh and kind of a curiosity of glamour (I’m speculating of course). The vocals even have that Josh Homme calm raspiness to them with enough reverb to make Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh) proud… or jealous.
The Life and Times also implement the idea of letting the rhythm section carry a song allowing the guitar to act as an atmosphere generator and explore the open space much like how Tool approaches a lot of their material. This can be heard on the faster (relatively speaking) second track “Day Nine” which also boasts one of the catchier moments of the record. As each song unwinds it becomes apparent that No One Loves You Like I Do is one of the most carefully crafted and precise records created. This masterfully recorded album never overuses any instrument or technique and the mix is impeccable. The Life and Times go from constructing giant walls of sound to ambient celestial floating to quieting the most minimal stripped down moments to accentuate the most vulnerable breaths of the lyrics (which are easier to digest if we recognize our own ability to occasionally have such a fatal flaw rather than judging the lyricist for being so pitifully forthright).
The blemish of this record, though, is that much like Tragic Boogie there are only a couple of tracks that will resonate and bring you back around for multiple listens before you’re just listening to those 2 songs. I won’t divulge which tracks I believe they are because I think the overall production of this record is something that needs to be taken in its entirety and marveled at. There aren’t many bands that sound like this anymore and even less that can execute this style and produce such a complete album with perfection. If only there were more memorable moments to make it soar even higher.