01. (It's Sometimes Like We Never Started)
02. Love American
03. Young Hearts Be Free Tonight
04. Since Always
06. The Last Supper After Party
10. Crush Of The Year
11. No Lotions Gonna Unclog Those Pores
12. We Killed It
13. (And It's Sometimes Like It Will Never End)
2003 Equal Vision Records
Let me preface this review by saying a few things. When "Background Music" came out it was one of the things that really revived the interest that I had lost in hardcore for quite some time. Like it or not, the impact that this band has had on the hardcore community in such a short time has been huge. The expectations placed on this disc by fans and haters alike have been huge and with good reason.
That out of the way, I can safely say that, standing on its own, this record is excellent. Different, yes. Less traditionally "hardcore" Yes. But still, excellent. After more listens than I've given a new album since I bought "Background Music," I finally feel capable of reviewing this record. Give Up The Ghost have apparently spent the last few years adding a few tricks to their book or as they put it, "coloring in the framework" of their style. Where their previous releases were (in my mind) the pinnacle of emotional intensity in hardcore, this record is definitely a bit more of a finesse piece.
It's really difficult to describe the quality that GUTG brings to their music that other bands just don't. In the last two years, imitators have crawled out of the woodwork, but none have measured up. I don't think this is really necessary, but for those who haven't heard this band, they play a generally fast-paced aggressive brand of hardcore that has been expanded on this release with some great rock riffs and indie rock parts.
What seems to have really separated this band from so many others for a lot of fans (myself included) are Wes Eisold's lyrics. Insightful, emotional and oozing with biting sarcasm, these words seem like they belong in a book of poetry instead of a hardcore record. While the limitations to themes such as self-inflection and relationship issues might make Give Up The Ghost a one trick pony of sorts, they do that trick so well, it's hard to hold it against them.
The tone for the record is set by the simple yet elegant intro "(It's Sometimes Like It Never Started)" and the first song "Love American," which previously appeared on their EP of the same name. As Eisold screams "Love is all that we ever need," you should know what you're in for. Each successive track that follows is another bitter lover's story of goodbye kisses and stabs in the back. Either this guy had one bitch of a significant other for a long time, or he has less luck with relationships than anyone on the planet.
Thus far, I haven't really said a whole lot about what sets this record apart from their previously releases and that's quite frankly because the difference is relatively minor. Where "Background Music" made up for its few shortcomings in raw emotion, "We're Down Til We're Underground" attempts to do so with songwriting and production. Songs like "Bluem" and "No Lotion's Gonna Unclog These Pores" shine because of what's not there, as much as what is. Generally speaking though, this record isn't so much a leap forward as it is a confident, albeit small step, in a more mature direction. You've also got to wonder what Jake Bannon's been eating because this is record number eighty-five billion that this guy has done artwork and design for that couldn't possibly suit the album any better.
Bottom Line: Reviewing this album was essentially an exercise in futility. If you are a Give Up The Ghost fan, you will likely love this record. If you insist on hating, you will hate it. Regardless of your preference, this record, while not nearly as refreshing as "Background Music," is really fucking good. It should appeal to anyone who likes hardcore, emo, screamo or music in general. If you don't at least give it a chance, you're simply cheating yourself.