LIFE – A Picture of Good Health
By Joe Goggins
The next time you hear somebody bemoaning the apparent dearth of political songwriters in the present, never-more-turbulent climate, you’d be well-advised to immediately point them in the direction of this incendiary third album from LIFE. ‘A Picture of Good Health’ is the Hull outfit’s third full-length and their most thrillingly vital to date, as frontman Mez Green delivers a searing state-of-the-nation address that acknowledges the struggles of the young in matters financial, emotional, and psychological.
They hold a sonic mirror up to those issues, too; the fact that this is the tightest that LIFE have ever sounded only means that there’s a palpable post-punk tension running through the thirteen tracks, with the snap of Stew Baxter’s percussion, squall of Mick Sanders’ guitars and ominous, omnipresent rumble of new recruit Lydia Palmeira’s bass only lent some off-kilter punctuation by Mez’s freewheeling vocal approach. It sees him in caged-animal mode one minute – the bleak trapped-by-circumstance ode to boredom of ‘Bum Hour’, for instance – and then adopting a cold sneer the next, with the acidic ‘Niceties’ a case in point. Throughout, there’s evidence of a unique thematic perspective – ‘Half Pint Fatherhood’ details his experiences as a lone parent – but what makes ‘A Picture of Good Health’ so vital is the unshakable sense that the gestation of LIFE’s firebrand formula has run parallel to the country’s political spiral. Now, they’re hitting their stride just as the Brexit void looms. Accordingly, this record is indispensable.