Life Andâ?¦, the latest full-length from Rhode Island's Learn, is a testament to the statement "a little bit goes a long way." What I mean is that even though Learn, upon first listen, sound like just another speedy hardcore band, the group adds enough of their own personal flair to the mix to keep things interesting, resulting in one of the better hardcore albums to be released in 2006.
Going deeper into my original claim, it's obvious that Learn have got a great grasp (Brian's alliteration has been rubbing off on me, apparently) on the tools for standard hardcore: quick songs, two-step parts, the strategically placed breakdown, and, of course, some gang vocals. However, Learn executes each of these aspects with just a little bit more expertise. If you listen closely, you'll hear the extra drum fill in the breakdown. Your plain ol' two-step is enhanced by some guitar noodling (the band is not afraid to make good use of the lead guitar with some serious shredding at times). Gang vocals actually sound like everyone in the band yelling into the mic, as opposed to what sounds like an entire stadium of people screaming some muffled trash, which adds some more honesty to the music. The production is top-notch as well; not too slick, but powerful all the same. For the duration of Life Andâ?¦, Learn keeps it interesting without straying too far away from the traditional sound.
A lot of songs found here start off with a real bang. From the screaming intro to "Four Years," a great pace-setter, to the intense drum beats of "Answers," Learn grabs your attention and refuses to let go. With all of the run-of-the-mill hardcore out there, it's an exceptional quality of a band to be able to keep hold of the listener's interest, and I would say that this band does it with the best of them. Obviously with thirteen tracks in a little over twenty or so minutes there is bound to be some filler ("Reform", "Is This It?"), but for the most part, Learn have learned from the best. Fine, I'm sorry for that one.
The vocals are also a high point of Life Andâ?¦. They remind me of a less metallic version of Elijah Horner's vocals of Killing the Dream, combined with Aaron Bedard of Bane's enunciation. It's never relegated to goofy Cookie Monster-dom, and always in your face. While nothing completely out of left field, the vocals keep the album feeling fresh.
I was pleasantly surprised with Life Andâ?¦. It seems that Learn have got all of their shit in place, which is fantastic for such a young hardcore band. This album isn't going to change the world or your life, but I'll be damned if it isn't worth your time.