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The Life and Times - Suburban Hymns (Cover Artwork)

The Life and Times

The Life and Times: Suburban HymnsSuburban Hymns (2005)
Desoto Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: AnchorsAnchors
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Prior to listening to Suburban Hymns, the only Life and Times I gave a damn about were those of Sean Carter. And that wasn't even close to being Jay-Z's best album. The band Life and Times though, I'm sure would hope people hold their album in a bit higher regard. Well, what should they be expect.
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Prior to listening to Suburban Hymns, the only Life and Times I gave a damn about were those of Sean Carter. And that wasn't even close to being Jay-Z's best album.

The band Life and Times though, I'm sure would hope people hold their album in a bit higher regard. Well, what should they be expecting? On the whole, a mix of pre-`90s U2 and R.E.M. with some dark, atmospheric elements thrown in there as well. The album still sounds like it was recorded in 2005, but both of those influences are more than prevalent on this album. And it's from there you'll probably already be able to decide whether or not you'll be inclined to like this. If you do find yourself liking those bands' early works, you'll be bountifully rewarded by songs like "Charlotte St," which has some real similarities to Michael Stipe's at times incoherent mumble. Then at other points, it seems as if singer Allen Epley is channeling Dave Matthews in his more desperate moments. Interesting, to say the least. Vocals aside, from a songwriting standpoint, just about everything to be found here is solid.

Each member of the band is given ample time to show the listener they're able to contribute to the overall feel of each song on the album. Eric Albert's thick bass grooves serve as a great transition between verse and chorus in "Skateland," but never really fully disappears during either of those instances. As mentioned before, it's a very mood-driven album.

A very somber, desolate one at that.

The music and arrangements never rise far above a dull roar, opting instead for a very cold, quiet, and mechanical feel, as exemplified with "Thrill Ride." The pounding of the drums eerily never ceases, while Epley cascades eerily along throughout. The problem with this sort of a vocal style is that it begins to grow difficult when it comes to differentiating song from song. Songs like "Skateland" do stick out above the others, but when he's singing in a more low-tempo song, it's all just a blur. "A Chorus of Crickets" starts with that similar monotony, but does see louder moments before the sounds of crickets aptly end the album.

Even after a few listens, I don't know quite where I stand on this album. As a collective whole, the Life and Times are able to evoke very certain moods, but does that also become a detractor when things run together? That'll be up to you.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
maersk (November 9, 2010)

i like tragic boogie better. even so, great band with a great pedigree

Anonymous (November 8, 2005)

This is a really good album. It doesn't sound to me like the reviewer has any point of reference for this music. Dave Matthews? Give me a break.
And yes, Shiner should get a mention so that anyone who is familiar with them will at least get a little idea of what to expect. Not that this is the same as Shiner, but similiar in roots.

Anonymous (November 6, 2005)

Like the man or not (I'm personally in the middle), one has to admit that Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt was his all time best.

Ramo

Icapped2pac (November 6, 2005)

(That was me below.)

Anonymous (November 6, 2005)

Come on, dude, you gotta mention Shiner when you talk about Al Epley. And if you don't know Shiner, do yourself a favor and check out any of their 3 last albums. I have these guys' EP, which is damn good, so I can't wait to hear this. I had no idea it was coming out already. I'm really disappointed you dropped Dave Matthews in there, I shuddered when I read that. I think that's giving everybody the wrong impression of these guys. I don't hear any DMB, or REM for that matter.

Anonymous (November 5, 2005)

Saw them last night in Chicago and holy shit, what an amazing show.

Anonymous (November 4, 2005)

Jay-Z had a few great albums, like Vol. 1 In My Lifetime.

iheartadam (November 4, 2005)

"That depends on whether not you like rap. If not, that explains itself, but if you, you'd have a hard time arguing me that 'The Blueprint' and 'The Black Album' weren't phenomenal."

I think he sounds like a retarded piece of bacon. I guess I don't like rap though....considering none of this crap holds water when compared to Rick da Ruler and related artists.

Inspection12e (November 4, 2005)

This is one of the better albums of the year. Definitely better then the Noise Conspiracy album that got 5 fucking stars.

Anchors (November 4, 2005)

That depends on whether not you like rap. If not, that explains itself, but if you, you'd have a hard time arguing me that 'The Blueprint' and 'The Black Album' weren't phenomenal.

iheartadam (November 4, 2005)

Jay-Z has a good album?

Should good be allowed to go with anything related to Jay-Z?

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