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Ted Leo + Pharmacists + You = Inspirational

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 27, 2007 2:50PM

Ted Leo gives it his all. He proved that last summer with blood streaming down his forehead after an overly exuberant lunge at the microphone to deliver his vocals, and didn't miss a beat. He proved it at Touch & Go's 25th anniversary party when he delivered one of the strongest sets in a legendary line-up and capped it off with a searing version of "Suspect Device." And he proved it by delivering yet another strong album in the form of Living With The Living.

2007_04_tedleo.jpgLeo's interesting mixture of mod fury dusted with the occasional touch of ska has always delivered satisfyingly frenzied results, but Living With The Living has an urgency, and an anger, missing in his previous albums. Whereas he and his Pharmacists have always espoused giving 110% in the interest of their songs, those same songs are often buoyed along by a general emotional exuberance. Living With The Living adds genuine anger to the mix and, at its most intense points, gets the closest to reflecting the passion of the band's live shows.

Admittedly Leo's political platitudes could run the risk of descending into the trite fist-shaking indulged in by numerous sophomore poli-sci majors, especially when he voices a Falkland soldier's scream of "not even the government knows what the fuck it's for anymore" on "Annunciation Day/Born On Christmas Day." But just as that slash and burn reaches its crescendo our hero gives way to an omniscient narrator and swoops into a rousing movement that seals our hero's fate but offers the faintest glimmer of hope that even the evil folks must face judgment day.

Yeah, we know this sounds like the stuff of Atlas, but trust us when we say that Leo's methods save the message from crushing the delivery. Even at his most angry, Leo can't help but let rays of optimism peak through and betray that deep inside he and his fellow fighters truly believe that music can make a difference.

It's one thing to rail against the establishment; it's a whole other thing to believe you, and everyone around you can make a difference. The former can be cathartic, but the latter is inspirational.

Ted Leo + Pharmacists play a sold-out show at Metro tomorrow.