I'm having a big Ted Leo night, for no real reason in particular (maybe it has something to do with his sweet green shorts?). Not only am I finally giving his latest effort a good listen (well overdue), I've been checking out the Tej Leo album and the Mo' Living EP. I strayed away from tej Leo (?), RX / Pharmacists for a really long time because I heard it was weird and bad and the title just seemed to suggest absurd heights of pretension (pretension is only enjoyable when employed by myself or one of my cohorts). As it turns out, there are a lot of weird tape loops and effects experiments going on throughout the album, but there are some pretty cool moments tucked away in there. It's not something I'm going to throw on all the time, and it certainly doesn't have that Mellencamp-y "Timorous Me" vibe, but I'd be a liar if I said I regretted bringing it into my possession. The track "Walking Through" starts off rather discordantly, but it settles into a solid groove.
The first thing I thought of listening to Mo' Living was the beasties track "Time for Livin'". Aside from the obvious coincidence of the word "livin", there's a very similar aesthetic between the beastie boys foray back into hardcore and Leo's "Living with the Living". It's nice to hear Ted drop his pants and rock out with his wiener in full effect.
Moving from the song to Living with the Living, the album, there's a lot you could argue about. There's certainly not much (successful) movement away from the techniques that have made his previous albums so enjoyable. You could say that it shows a lack of imagination or creativity, but I'd have to disagree. Even if he's sticking to a style, this album still knocks it out of the park and it's really nice to see that Leo hasn't lost his touch after so many albums. I can't say that the album is perfect for me; "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb." seems to be the furthest from the "ted leo" sound (if there is one). It's maybe the best song title ever, and a real letdown of a song. That being said, there are plenty of high points to the album. "La Costa Brava" is sure to pop up on more than a few of my mixes this summer, especially with those ambling dreamy guitar lines, and "Colleen" has the perfect gait for seated car dancing. Plus "The Sons of Cain" has been one of my favorite songs since it started popping up on the internet a while ago.