For some time now, Iâ€™ve privately lamented that rock music has grown so estranged from its rebellious roots; itâ€™s become hard to associate the form with its progenitors. Occasionally, a truly progressive band comes along that puts the â€śrollâ€ť back into the rock, oozing a raw sexuality while maintaining politically based lyrics that display the turmoil and angst that rockâ€™s fan base often swirl around in. The St. Louis-based Living Things is one such band. They breathe new life into music that has been systemically sanitized, corporative, and rendered not so gratefully dead.
Itâ€™s the kind of band Lou Reed would love- stripped down to its essentials of guitar, bass, and drums supporting brooding vocals with ironic and just plain, low-down truthful lyrics. Itâ€™s the product of the brothers Berlin: Lillian, Eve, and Bosh, with some backup from friend Cory Becker. Throughout the album, the Berlins and Becker pay tribute to many of their mentors.
The first two songs, â€śBombs Belowâ€ť and â€śI Oweâ€ť are extremely reminiscent of early Ramones works. From there we get to the hit â€śBom, Bom, Bomâ€ť and â€śNew Yearâ€ť, which eerily recalls the spirit of 70â€™s glam provocateurs Marc Bolan and T. Rex.
Musically, the rest of the album sways gently between some early Brit-punk and Seattle-based grunge. But the music, as good as it is, serves a supporting role to Lillian Berlinâ€™s writing. Highly esteemed colleagues often compare this band to Nirvana. But if Nirvana spoke to the angst and rage of Generation X, Living Things speaks for a new generation of the young, whoâ€™ve had their rage calmed by legal pushers of Prozac and Ritalin. Theyâ€™ve received medically induced teenage lobotomies, without having to undergo the tortuous invasions of the adult worldâ€™s scalpels. And Lillian would know, having been put on a regimen of those same medications during his teen years. In a country where normal growing pains are sometimes turned into designer illnesses, itâ€™s not surprising that Lillian refers to these kids as the â€śblackout generationâ€ť.