Midtown - Living Well Is The Best Revenge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Living Well Is The Best Revenge (2002)


Ah, Midtown. How I missed thee. I've been a fan of this band since "back in the day," before they got signed to Drive-thru or anything. We used to exchange emails all the time, and they even linked to my old band on their webpage [and vice versa]. Those guys even kept the link up even after they hit it big, touring with Blink 182 and the Warped Tour. They are by far the nicest guys in rock that I've ever met; and it definitely shows in their music. That can be a good and a bad thing.

On one hand, the music contained on this, Midtown's second proper full-length and major label debut, is easy to swallow, and unlike some bands, leaves no bitter aftertaste. This band is sincere in every note they strum and every harmony they sing, no matter how many times Pro Tools was used. On the other hand, the album doesn't have much of an edge to it. If you're looking for agressive, in your face punk rock, move on. This is music that your little sister could get into. This is music that your parents wouldn't mind letting you put in the car stereo on a long trip. Most importantly, this is the music of Midtown.

It's obvious that Midtown are just all-around nice guys - first off, their last album was called "Save The World, Lose The Girl." If you look at the lyrics, you'll understand my point even further. Sure, the majority of songs are about girls [what pop-punk band's songs aren't?], but whereas some bands abuse their lost loves in song [see: Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional... well, most of Vagrant Records], Midtown's lyrics represent that well-meaning but socially-inadequate kid at the high school dance, trying to win over the prom queen. Trust me guys, we're all pulling for you [although with their pretty boy looks, I doubt they need any help scoring gash].

Musically, if you liked the band's older material, this is right up your alley. The album kicks off with a triumverate of rock, with "Become What You Hate," "Still Trying," and "Get It Together" packed to the brim with big hooks, lush harmonies, and enough "Yeah!"s to sink a ship. The band lays out their card right away on this album: their goal is to rock you.

The album continues on with the presumed first single, "Like A Movie." It's a bit more dumbed down than most Midtown material, it's more pop-punk than the band usually is, but hey, whatever breaks the radio market, right? It's still a good, hummable song. The album then slips into a bit of a rut for the next 4 songs, ending up sounding like background music for the next teen sex comedy. Nothing too memorable sticks out until track 9, "A Faulty Foundation" rolls around. This is the hardest and fastest song on the album, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite Midtown tunes overall. It's a classic story of love lost ["What if this had not happened, woah-oh / What if she hadn't gone"] that only Midtown can tell. The album continues to finish off on a bang with "In The Songs" and "Find Comfort In Yourself." The former is a shoutout of sorts to all their friends back in New Jersey for supporting them through the years [aren't odes to fans done only by boy bands? Oh well.], and the latter is another uptempo emotional punk number that has guest vocals from Vinnie of the Movielife. It's a great album closer, and another definite standout.

The production on this album is crystal clear, and it will come to no surprise that Mark Trombino produced this album. He makes the band sound as loud as possible but he still leaves space for the band to grow, which they definitely will. Midtown's major label debut isn't perfect, but it's as good as the band can get right now. I won't mind hearing this on the radio next to Jimmy Eat World, the Strokes and Dashboard Confessional - at least it's not Puddle of Mudd or Hoobastank. If this were any other band, I would give this a lower score, but because I know this is Midtown, I know that this is as sincere and as honest as the band can get.


Get It Together
Still Trying
Like A Movie
Become What You Hate
Find Comfort In Yourself