Modern Life Is War May Be Growing Up, But Still Not Quite Awake At “Midnight”

Jeff Eaton Over a period of five years, Modern Life Is War have mesmerized audiences from dimly lit, punk-house basements to venues with capacities of 1200 sweaty bodies. Their premier and sophomore albums, My Love. My Way, and Witness, feature aggressive, melodic hardcore, complete with formulaic three-chorded opuses and Holden Caulfield-inspired librettos, only no hunting hats and way more slam dancing. Their latest effort, Midnight In America, attempts to achieve something nonexistent in their previous releases: Maturity.

The band tries to extend itself not by abstaining from lyrics of woeful adolescence and the oppressive forces of Marshalltown, Iowa, but more so within the musical fabric of the album. Midnight is by far Modern Life Is War’s most musically complex album that they have released yet, containing more riffs, more harmonies, and more time changes.

Setting his words ablaze, singer Jeff Eaton introduces Midnight with a preamble resembling a monstrous wave. The guitars throw the tempo into high gear, taking the drums with them into a dizzying spin of grind-influenced ostinatoes. The song is in an odd time signature, a glitzy sign of sophistication, apt to disorient any two-stepping dancer at a show into a fit of befuddlement.

The track begins to decelerate, displaying a different type of intensity, greatly contrasting to the likes of sing-a-longs like, “D.E.A.D. R.A.M.O.N.E.S” or “Yesterday’s Trash.” It is as if the record is a 78 lagging along the 33 rpm setting on a turntable. The pace’s ebb unfortunately obscures the ferocity that is there.

Despite the doldrums that pass through the album, Midnight does have a fair set of passionate anthems that are greatly enhanced with one fist swinging in the air. The tunes “Fuck The Sex Pistols,” and “Pendulum” gyrate the LP into a mode of ballsiness, more reminiscent of Modern Life Is War’s days as punk-rock D’ebutants. MLIW prove to stay tough, proud, hard, and finish the album with a level of elegantly constructed fury.

MLIW will start their fall tour on at the end of August and will be seen with fellow acts Ruiner, Young Widows, and Sick Of It All. You can buy Midnight In America at http://www.modernlifeiswar.net, as well as check out updates and other cool swag.

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