Ted Leo & the Pharmacists Living with the Living
Published Mar 23, 2007Ted Leo rarely disappoints. In a climate of do-it-yourself enthusiasts Leo is one of the originals, turning out punk rock with a political aftertaste reminiscent of the genres glory days. Leo attacks every album with a ferocity and precision that transcends his DIY convictions and gives each track a feeling of wild authenticity. Living with the Living, his fifth full-length, charges with opening track "The Sons of Cain and its bopping, hand-clapping rhythm, while "Bomb Repeat Bomb chugs out a riff that smacks of frustration, while "Unwanted Things is a reggae-tinged track that recalls the brilliance of the Specials. Politics are still an important part of Leos lyrics and song structures but this album sees him going beyond immediate situations in search of political commentary that doesnt just hold relevance for current circumstances but also resonates in more than one era. Its this switch in writing that is the most noticeable change, though thats not to say it detracts from the infectiousness of "Who do you Love? or affects Leos noticeably strong lyrics negatively. A change of labels and a two-year stretch in the writing process, an anomaly for Leo, have succeeded in enabling Living to sit triumphantly between pop and punk as one of the most perfectly formed albums of its genres and evidence of a hardworking craftsman.
What was the recording process like?
It was a lot different from the last one; we were recording at Longview Farms in Massachusetts, so I was commuting a lot, which was tiring. I also usually write in one block but with this record it was a little more difficult. I ended up writing all of this between late 2004 and late 2006, so I was basically writing this album over a two-year period.
Did the politics in your lyrics change over the process of recording?
At the time the politics down here felt like this endless tunnel and I was kind of forced to look at things less in a commentating way and had to look at these issues in a broader context. Certainly a song like "Bomb or be Bombed has relevance to any war, including the one that were in, but its actually about Guatemala and the overthrow of the Armas government. My point being that this is nothing new, which is a notion thats been completely lost in the discourse about why were in Iraq and its something that I think needs to start being brought back. My thinking about these current issues had to evolve to keep myself interested. (Touch and Go)