Left Alone - Left Alone  (Cover Artwork)

Left Alone

Left Alone: Left Alone

Left Alone (2009)

Hellcat


3.5
The one thing I hope will never happen to Left Alone is that they'll be pigeonholed as "just another street punk band." Being on Hellcat and sounding an awful lot like Rancid doesn't really help, but their last album, Dead American Radio was a pleasant surprise that provided a great mix of punk, ska...

The one thing I hope will never happen to Left Alone is that they'll be pigeonholed as "just another street punk band." Being on Hellcat and sounding an awful lot like Rancid doesn't really help, but their last album, Dead American Radio was a pleasant surprise that provided a great mix of punk, ska and a little country flavor that could appeal to more than just mohawk-toting teens. Left Alone definitely have playing fast-paced punk songs down, but where they've really shined has been on the more soulful and somber tunes that have graced each of their records. Characteristics like these have been what separates them from their peers (except for maybe Rancid themselves) and puts Left Alone in their own little niche in the sub-genre.

However, for their third full-length, the band has taken a more simplistic approach to their songwriting, relying more on frantic punk jams than the southern twang that rested heavy on their last effort. Armed with yet another revamped lineup, frontman Elvis Cortez should be awarded for keeping the group strong through every incarnation and also having something a little different to bring to the table each time.

On Left Alone, many of the new songs are very keyboard-driven, even more so than on Dead American Radio. Although it rarely takes any lead parts on the album, each song would have been much weaker without it. The best examples show on bass-heavy tracks like "Bottles of Wine" and "Sad Story" that nearly tune out Cortez's guitar completely but not at all in a way that it harms the performance.

As always, the band has sprinkled a few ska gems in as well, but with the absence of any horn parts this time around, they kind of fall a bit flat. Play "La Pregunta" and then any song off this record and you'll know what I mean.

Still, through everything, Left Alone manage to put together a very strong record that comes just in time for summer. I fear that this album may get more lost in the shuffle than their previous ones (especially because of other Hellcat bands releasing new albums this season), but there's no denying that Left Alone is still fun, and there's more than enough catchy parts to bop along to. Although it may not be as ambitious as Dead American Radio, they still hit home with the newest addition to their long-running catalog.