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In recent years, many bands have tried to reinvent themselves by radically changing their sound and style and ended up making albums that can best be described as curious. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Adore” and Eric Clapton’s “Pilgrim” are prime examples of lackluster albums made by talented artists who for some reason felt the need to reinvent themselves.
There is nothing new about Live’s latest release, “The Distance to Here”. And that’s the best part. Live took the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach in making their fourth studio album. Small subtleties distinguish it from Live’s three previous efforts, but the album has a sound and feel that are unique to Live.
The songs on this album fit nicely into Live’s template. They begin with a soft, slow verse accompanied by quiet guitars, then build from there. Some songs build into roaring choruses; others remain soft and mellow. Lead singer Edward Kowalczyk’s emotional vocals are complimented skillfully by powerful guitars that are no louder than they need to be.
Live’s ability to change their volume and sound to fit each song is their greatest asset. “The Dolphins Cry”, the first radio single from this album, is an unrefined rock song that sounds remarkably like “Lakini’s Juice”, the first single from Live’s “Secret Samadhi” album. “Dance With You” is an emotional ballad that would be boring if it were performed by anyone other than Live. The band succeeds in bringing the song to life by not overproducing it- it is a slow song but not a beautiful song. “Face and Ghost (The Children’s Song)” is equally mellow, but lacks the honest emotion that is evident in “Dance With You”. The highlight of the album is “Run to the Water”, an energetic and upbeat song that is more polished and melodic than most Live songs. Throughout the album, Live succeeds in striking a delicate balance between underproducing and overproducing their songs.
“The Distance to Here” is not the album of the year. It’s not even Live’s best album. “The Distance to Here” is an excellent album that contains a few great songs and a lot of good songs. Albums that can be enjoyed from beginning to end seem to be getting rarer as the alternative music scene becomes crowded with one-hit wonders like Lit, Marcy Playground and Eve 6. “The Distance to Here” is a full album, not just a few good songs with some mediocre songs as filler material.