Live and Let Live
Indie listeners and critics historically adore Ted Leo, perhaps because his music contains something for everyone. Casting a wide net in influences, the indie king Ted Leo and his band the Pharmacists provide a cornucopia of styles on fifth album Living with the Living.
Ted Leo has the Clash’s flair for springboarding from punk roots to rockabilly and reggae territory with a political edge. “The Sons of Cain” has flying ‘50s guitars, slap bass and boogie woogie licks that invoke rockabilly. Slowing down to a Rocksteady pace, “The Unwanted Things” contains the characteristic one drop rhythm. Changing tempo yet again and conjuring Henry Rollins, “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb” screams protest with Hardcore-tinged shout-singing. One can assume the topic was inspired by recent international conflicts. Elsewhere, “A Bottle of Buckie” has a Celtic jam in the middle, while “Who Do You Love?” contains some rousing Thin Lizzy inspired riffs.
Such vast experimentation shouldn’t be misconstrued as a gimmick. With Living With the Living, Ted has a lot to say and strikes a different mood for each of his contemplations. He is confrontational, intellectual, even anthemic at times, but always interesting.