A Look in The Local(ish) Bin: The Life and Times

The Life and Times are one of those bands that feel bigger than their physical presence. Their albums are full of swelling guitars, plumbing bass, and roomy percussion. The Chicago trio throws vocals into the mix to shade their sound subtly–making for songs that are lush without feeling maximal or overwrought. The Life and Times will be touring through November in support of their Doppelganger EP (seven cover songs) and have a new album out in the Spring. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

A few years ago, The Life and Times put out an album called Lost Bees. The ten track record is both large and uncompromising in its unfurling. Lost Bees, from start to finish, boils with an airy feel that is simultaneously warm and inviting and numbing. The juxtaposition of these two tones creates a strange and complex resonance as the album moves through its tracks. The album starts with “Again,” a swirling and melancholic track. “Again” is built from reverby leads and pummeling drums. Within its sonic architecture, The Life and Times diffuse their lyrics to create a soundscape that is steeped in paranoia and oddly relaxed about it.

The song washes perfectly into “Ice Cream Eyes” and “Eyes and Teeth”–two songs that show the different sounds The Life and Times are able to create throughout Lost Bees. Flitting between swift jittering and glacially paced riffs, The Life and Times are masters at building tension no matter what number is placed on their BPMs. Their ability conjure vastly deep yet confidently controlled soundscapes is second to none.

Picking up on this skill, “Bored To Death” spins out with a surface clarity that is deceptive. Under this initial layer lies the song’s core–a woolly and amorphous beast. That The Life and Times are able to control the track’s energetic parts without having the entire song unravel in front of them is feat in and of itself. That the trio is able to do this with a preternatural ease is something of awe.

Lost Bees ends with the track “God Only Knows.” The 8 minute epic begins as a slow boil–collaging minimal lead lines and steady drums with semi-falsetto vocals and ghostly bass. The slow racheting of tension hits a climax around the song’s midpoint, when it explodes with feedback-fueled leads.

“God Only Knows” ties together Lost Bees well. Its swells and largeness keeps with the album’s sound while its structure and epicness pushes the sound The Life and Times had sketched to another plateau. Truly, Lost Bees ends not with whimper but with a snarl. The album is a great album for fall. As we move into November, keep your ears peeled for new music, original and otherwise, from The Life and Times.

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