You Should Be Living

Tooth & Nail

To be frankly honest, a record like You Should Be Living is the reason that I completely love music as much as I do. This record is completely incredible, and is, without a doubt, the best record of any genre, I have heard in the past two years.

First off, let me describe the band’s music. They can easily be pigeonholed as an “emo” band, for they are extremely emo; but, just as Karate should not be categorized in such a generic fashion, neither should be Twothirtyeight. Twothirtyeight bares many a resemblance to early Karate, back before Karate became the primarily jazz band that they are today. Twothirtyeight is what Karate fans wish Karate had evolved into: melodic, intricate, emotional, moody, dark, deep, rockin’, and thought provoking.

I got my first taste of this band with the Regulate The Chemicals rerelease on Tooth & Nail at the end of last year, and I was blown away. You Should Be Living is better.

Lyrically, the band writes of subjects so personal and honest that some listeners will cringe at the sheer brutality of the truth within. It’s almost impossible to describe, but it’s like this: imagine that Chris Carraba (Dashboard Confessional) was actually believable… such is Twothirtyeight, believable Dashboard Confessional that rocks, too.

Musically, this band is completely infallible. The guitars are biting and grating, very Jawbox or Braid sounding, and the players are of very high talent and ingenuity. The little melodies they come up with are both somber and peppy at the same time. The bass guitar is ringy and overdriven throughout, but in a manner very tasteful and quite ballsy. Being straight from the land of perfect album mixes, the drums are very loud and just right in the mix; they hit hard, the bass drum is enormous, and the drummer does these cool little tricks on the snare drum (rolling and shuffling) that aren’t noticeable unless you’re listening through headphones, but that really accentuate the music (see “Romancing The Ghost”).

To be frankly honest, the fact that this record is so amazing scares me. The last time I liked a post hardcore record this much was Braid’s Frame And Canvas, and they never made another full length before breaking up. I think Hey Mercedes is OK, but Frame And Canvas is simply a masterwork.

I didn’t speak much of the vocalist yet, but his voice is both unique and completely right for this band. It’s both tortured, wise, grizzled, and pristine, and his delivery is laid back for the most part, but urgent when it needs to be. His voice is easily recognizable and unique, just as unique as Geoff Farina’s and, I think (this may be blasphemous), better.

Like I said, this record is the best of 2002, and one of the best records since the turn of the millennium. My all-time favorite bands, The Cure, Sonic Youth, and Bjork, are all at the point in their careers where they only put out a record every two or three years, so to have a new favorite band, young in their career and creating completely amazing music, is just wonderful. I’m so giddy and in love with this record that I can’t eat or sleep.


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