2016.05.13 - FasterLouder


Date: 13th May 2016
Author: Tim Klingbiel
Album Review


Archived from: http://fasterlouder.junkee.com/...

The Living End’s ‘Shift’ is a rollicking return to form

After 2011’s largely underwhelming The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, which sacrificed The Living End’s punky grit in favour of a polished radio pop sheen, you could easily be forgiven for believing that the band had slipped into late-career comfort. But after a five-year hiatus, the dynamic trio return with Shift, a forceful and direct LP that sees them moving back towards peak of their powers.

Perhaps the strongest attribute of Shift is how concise and punchy these tracks are – the boys have done a stellar job of cranking out a fat free record, with no real lulls in proceedings to speak of. It speaks volumes as to just how necessary the band’s break proved to be, as they have come back sounding refreshed and avoided slipping into a succession of flat and mediocre records devoid of any real spirit. While The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating seemed stuck in second gear, Shift has done exactly what it says on the tin.

Angular opener ‘One Step’ infuses the classic Living End rockabilly sound with shades of Editors and Franz Ferdinand, while ‘Monkey’ feels like a modern take on Beyond Salvation-era Angels. As the first public taste of the record, ‘Monkey’ was certainly an excellent choice – it’s probably the record’s most energetic and upfront moment.

The high tempo, rollicking ‘Death’ features a fine trademark Cheney solo, as he gives the Gretsch a workout not seen since 2008’s White Noise. The reverb-tinged ‘Staring Down the Barrel’ sounds readymade for massive, packed out venues around the country, while ‘Keep On Running’ is a classic Living End ballad in the vein of ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ – simple yet anthemic. ‘Up The Junction’ sees the band getting back in touch with the slightly ska-esque grooves of their earlier material, coming off almost like a turbocharged Specials.

‘Wire’ and ‘With Enemies Like That’ both work well as 2016 takes on the classic Living End sound, and typify the spirit of much of the album – staying true to their roots while still feeling like they are exploring some new territory.

‘Further Away’ has a touch of criminally underrated lad rock beacons Northern Uproar about it, while the transformation of ‘Coma’ from reggae-tinged mid-tempo rocker to jumped up punk waltz and back again shows that Cheney’s penchant for dynamics in his songwriting has not waned over the years.

‘Life As We Know It’ ends the record on a powerful note – the opening line of “What would you do if everything you knew was nothing but a magic book of lies” sets the scene for the track’s existential thematic direction, with the chorus of “There’s no destination, only right here and now” serving to reinforce the message.

7/10 stars

The Living End’s Shift is out now through Dew Process / UMA. 

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