The Levellers' latest album 'Truth & Lies' is a good stab at turning a '90s phenomenon into a '00s earner. Placing their peak at the platinum selling 'A Weapon Called The Word' may still prove to be a fair appraisal, but the new album is definitely worth a listen... if not a tenner.
The upbeat opener 'Last Man Alive' provides a clear statement of the album's intent. The track is far more power pop and far less celtic dance than their previous work. Their classic sound has not been bastardised completely - there is still the excitable electric violin - but this more heavily produced release is clearly a stab at remaining 'current'. (The press release proudly states that the opening track is the group's 13th Top 40 single - where exactly in the Top 40 they neglect to add.)
'Last Man Alive' subsides to make way for 'Make You Happy', a better mix of celtic violin and vocoder-lite than the first track but certainly not up to their hit records of the past. There are no 'One Way's or 'What a Beautiful Day's here. In fact the whole of the centre section of the album sounds like a sanitised version of 'Levelling The Land' with the post production gnawing destructively at the edge of Mark Chadwick's usually resonating vocals.
Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike this album; it's just all a bit early Dandy Warhols, but not as good. More damningly it's not even up to their back catalogue. We can't honestly pretend to have expected a killer album stacked with brilliant tracks (one or two would have appeased most) and this album will have served its job if it manages to sell to just a small proportion of their huge '90s fan base. You won't get the feeling that The Levellers are about to explode back onto the scene, but this album is a very enjoyable slice of pop-folk with an occasional sneer, making this a nineties band that is still remaining within the quick-moving musical spotlight - but only just.
6Ben Jones's Score