Is it wrong to try and load so much on the back of a one trick pony? Well, forgive me if you will, because I've got a good amount of my hope in punk rock invested in one of Long Island's finer contributions to music -- Latterman.
It's true what they say, a good portion of their songs do sound alike. I know that any time I listen to an album of theirs, I won't randomly be bombarded with an impromptu breakdown, rap verses, extended instrumental passages, or any other elements not welcome far outside the context of their own genres. What I will get, is a band who puts an immeasurable amount of heart into their music, and it carries over in each and every minute of the album.
‚?¶We Are Still Alive finds the band as comfortably in their shoes as ever, and as full of enthusiasm and exuberance as I think their bodies could possibly withstand. If their first two full-lengths were packed with sing-alongs and fist-pumping anthems, this album is positively overflowing with them. The vocal combination of Phil Douglas and Matt Cannino is positively invigorating, and even during the more reserved moments (of which there are not many) there's an underlying spirit and rhythm that cannot be denied. A spirit and rhythm that carries this four-piece from minute one to thirty, and not letting a single one of those be anything less than enjoyable.
The album is stellar from almost beginning to end, but it all revolves around those vocals. Few singers can make every song as much fun as Latterman's do. An enigma of sorts that never loses steam, every track has the potential to be your new favorite. "Mumbled Words and Ridiculous Faces" couples some terrific drum fills with call-and-answer style vocals for the intro, before some quick riffing brings the rousing chorus of "The minute hand seems a little off this time around, but just like us it will find its place, so let's just give it some time for now." There's nothing difficult to tackle in the lyrics, most revolving around universal themes of community, and while that's become quite the tired topic, something just tells you that Latterman mean it. There's a sincerity there that so many bands lack, a sincerity that gives the words some gravity. "We Work the Night Shift" is one of Latterman's only forays into a bit more down-tempo of a song. It doesn't lose any of the sing-along qualities the others had, but at the same time, the rhythms aren't quite as quick and bouncy. The band tackles something different -- albeit only slightly, again on the last song, "Will This Be on the Test?."
At 6 minutes, the song is an extension of their normal punk rock, this time incorporating some guest female vocals to add another dimension. Undoubtedly a solid effort, but it strays a bit far from what they do so well, and subsequently, causes the album to lose some steam just when it needs it the most.
Still, the one and only gripe against Latterman seems to be their penchant to stick to the same style and songwriting technique. An understandable criticism, but this album firmly illustrates why the "if it ain't broke.." analogy has stood true for so many years. Unflappably cathartic and infectious, this record presents, as did their last two, an invigorating blast of punk rock spirit and gusto. And for that, they've no reason to apologize.