Young Livers - Of Misery and Toil (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Young Livers

Of Misery and Toil (2010)

No Idea

The story with Young Livers' first full-length, The New Drop Era, was that it was a raucous bout of Drive Like Jehu-inspired, guitar-driven fury with abundant kineticism and quiet angularity. So it supposedly goes to show that the band is merely following John Reis' career trajectory by showing off a slightly more buoyant energy via Hot Snakes' or Rocket from the Crypt's effortless roll on their new one, Of Misery and Toil.

Admittedly, those comparisons feel off, but Toil is still another representation of the closest a punk band can come to playing rock'n'roll without it ever once coming off cheesy or at all contrived. Still, that's about where any of those aforementioned comparisons might halt. Opener "Born in Vein" immediately propels forward with the band's familiar scowl of tortured, gravel-stricken vocals, nearly incomprehensible with every pained word and howling above a steady, forward-throttle beat with an incredibly somber guitar line ringing above it. As the feeling on this particular track shows, and the record title hints at, this is a slightly darker, commiserating response to their debut.

It's also a little more forgettable, as Young Livers ain't sticking too many hooks here or there to command replay. But it feels less like neglect and more like avoiding pandering; there's less a lyric that represents "All the Wretched" and more a mere feeling of emotionally damaged urgency that kicks it off so instantly and insistently. It's more of a scramble trying to find these senses of vague heartache as the record wears on, but they're there ("A Shortness of Breath"). It just takes patience, and the band still find points--like on "All the Wretched"--to briefly slow down and reflect, letting that early Hot Water Music vibe continue to permeate their sound as it did for Era.

Meanwhile, a fatter bottom end, courtesy of new addition bassist Mike Carter, garners press mentions of metallic riff behemoths like Big Business and Baroness, and while Toil occasionally feels unusually thick for the band, it's halfway there at best. However, that's admittedly farther than Young Livers' normal ilk, and it gives cuts like "Suffering From" and "In Rapid Succession" a certain burliness.

Though Of Misery and Toil often feels like white-noise punk saved by a graceful splash of melancholy and drive, it keeps its beat well and snaps the listener back often with its chord changes and intermittent moments of moody persuasion.

Of Misery and Toil