It’s unfortunate that Lifetime only gained the reputation they did after breaking up, at least to those living outside of the tri-state area -- but I suppose that’s to be expected whenever a punk band with a gold record namedrops you on TRL and community center shows.
Lifetime is the latest offering from the New Jersey band, and (besides the Two Songs 7-inch) contains the first batch of new material fans new and old have heard from Ari Katz, Dan Yemin, Pete Martin, Dave Palaitis, and Scott Golley since they prematurely parted ways in 1997.
Had Lifetime been released less than 10 years after their last full-length, Jersey’s Best Dancers, there’s no doubt that it would have been hailed as their best work. Sure, they didn’t have a large enough audience to create much “hailing” back then, but Lifetime would have changed that, if anything could have. In 2007, the album should still stand as their best work. It’s got all the pop-punk/hardcore moments that made them appealing to begin with and Katz’s vocals still wonderfully straddle the balance between snotty and clean in his delivery. Most of the songs on Lifetime are uncomplicated and unabashedly pop-punk, such as the stunning opener, "Northbound Breakdown," which brings with it clean soaring choruses and up-tempo verses, offering listeners the perfect welcome mat to the band. Other songs, most notably "Just a Quiet Evening," lean more heavily towards the hardcore end of the spectrum. However, most of the songs present a balance, with a certain bias towards infectious melody.
I have little doubt that if Lifetime were released in 1999, and if the band wanted it, Lifetime could have been the biggest pop-punk band on the amphitheatre circuit. Those of us already counting ourselves as fans of the band can take a selfish deep breath, though, in knowing that such fame is pretty unlikely today. Lifetime is still too rough around the edges to make a significant impact on video rotations. Their eponymous effort also comes too late to be appreciated on its own. Lifetime has become almost legendary in punk rock and there was no way the band was going to be able to live up to the hype they’ve become a part of, a hype largely fuelled by a few live shows, press releases, and the tease of new songs.
Despite the initial disappointment a few might have when either thinking, “This is what people made such a big deal about?” or “I liked it more a decade ago,” Lifetime still contains some of the best pop-punk songs you’re going to hear all year. Songs such as the anthemic "All Night Long," the dancefloor sprawl of "Yeems' Song for Nothing" and direct Embrace nods of "Records at Nite" prove that the band wasn’t limited to what was offered on Two Songs. Lifetime is a quick rhythmic work that allows dudes such as myself to proclaim without fear, “Yeah man, I like pop-punk.” Thanks a lot Lifetime, I needed that.