Letters from the Underground from the Leveller

The Levellers celebrate the twentieth anniversary since the band founded in style this year with the release of ‘Letters From The Underground’. It has been four long years in the waiting, but this release combines punk rock with some traditional English styles.

This album conveys passion, energy and confidence through methods that gained them a lot of respect from their early days in the industry. Their music is very focused on strings and it is through this focus point that much of the expressions and emotional effects take hold. For most of the songs on this release, such as the opener ‘The Cholera Well’, have a contented bounce in their spring. This one in particular gives me a sense of wanting to dance. From this happy go lucky tune to ‘Fight Or Flight’ a track based on melancholy strings and keys with emotional rolls and heart tingles.

As well as emotional music, there is the country indie vibes that dominate this release. ‘Death Loves Youth’ is a mix of guitar and violin with an added Vanessa Mae meets Country singer running through. The indie vibe returns for ‘Burn America, Burn’ with a starting string rhythm that other instruments aspire to and join in with, and then an explosive beat introduces ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, which is so synchronised it is unbelievable.

For much of ‘Letters From The Underground’ the vocals are able to alter and coincide with the music. The strong base line and fast paced indie vocals work wonderfully on ‘Heart Of The Country’, the way the vocals barely sing while surrounding a melancholy atmosphere on ‘Behold the Pale Rider’ gives a slight Pogues ring and the fast paced Parka style vocals while content with country violins gets a listener very caught up on ‘Eyes Wide’. Then there are the harmonious to ‘Duty’ that are truly effective.

In lyrical terms the band have written songs regarding topics such as war, the media, government and other personal details. This could be, as the press release claims, the bands “most political resonant album in a decade”, and it is a damn good listen.