image Living with the Living
Ted Leo/Pharmacists
Release: Mar 20, 2007
Touch and Go

Blasting off with The Sons of Cain, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists pick up exactly where they left off with Shake the Sheets. The immediate difference in Living with the Living is the Bob Mould-esce rapidly strummed tin-like acoustics (ala Sugar) throughout the beginning of the album. That and some sparse piano painted a top the punctual political shouts. Speaking of politics, is Neil Young and Ted Leo the only ones pissed about this war? If not, they’re certainly crying loudest about it. And if you can believe it, Living’ is Leo’s loudest scream to date.

With track titles like Army Bound, Bomb.Repeat.Bomb, and The Lost Brigade Leo’s attention seems to be substituting Dubya with everyday soldiers.

Somebody’s dreams they just don’t pay out.
Somebody’s means don’t leave much way out.
In every cradle there’s a grave now,
In every owner there’s a slave now.

But don’t assume his King George rants have fallen completely to the wayside.

Oh, so you could mobilize a million troops?
“Although a thousand would probably get the job done.”
But then, people start to ask questions.

Those notes of everyday soldiers are what make Leo’s Living’ unlike Neil Young’s Living with War. The former captures an emotion for a country at war. Leo places the listener in uncomfortable shoes like Young and Dylan used to do. He illustrates images of soon-to-be-widowed wives at home awaiting the knock at the door. Yet, he doesn’t idealize them in some Three Doors Down fashion. He talks of how they really are: bigoted, uneducated, desperate, poor women that cheered on the bombs like the war was another Super Bowl.

This is your mission. Pretend its television, where the good guys always win.

Some may say that without political turmoil Leo wouldn’t have the same punch. This album proves them wrong. He understands human emotion and despair and captures it with his pen. Until that ceases his relevancy will be evermore prevalent.

If more aggression, a little reggae, and a tad more experimentation upon the typical Ted Leo album appeals to you, Living with the Living will deliver.