|Ted Leo and the Pharmacists:
Living with the Living Label: Touch and Go
Ted Leo is an old-school punk rocker, or, more accurately, a good example of what pop/punk should be. On his fifth album and debut on the Touch and Go label, Leo and his Pharmacists blaze a trail that leaves today’s kids in the dust. Living with the Living is like a roller coaster ride, with enough musical flavors to make Baskin-Robbins jealous. And somehow Mr. Leo holds it all together, as he and his Pharmacists dispense 15 prescriptions that run the gamut from safe to really daring. Taken as a whole, each little pill will evoke a different mood, and the whole package will leave you euphoric and wondering why this guy hasn’t broken out bigger than he has.
“The Sons of Cain” is a Fender guitar blitz that sounds as raw and garage-y as it is completely infectious. On “Army Bound,” Leo sounds like a less polished Elvis Costello and he makes a firm political statement with “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” “The Unwanted Things” has a distinct reggae flavor, on which Leo uses his vocal instrument to perfection with a perfectly placed falsetto, and on “The World Stops Turning,” dude shows that he could absolutely take the pop punksters of today to school on how to really rock. “Colleen” is a bit of a clunker, but with 15 tracks you can’t make them all stand out. And “La Costa Brava” is engaging enough to make up for any clunkers, and it’s the track that has the most commercial potential -- that is, if Leo and his label are looking for commercial potential.
The indie rock world, as well as the likes of Rolling Stone and Blender, has sung Ted Leo’s praises over the last few years, but that doesn’t always mean the praise is deserved. In Leo’s case, it’s deserved and then some, and with this new album he’s sure to garner fans of indie rock and mainstream pop alike. Now go get your prescription filled, so you too can get high on Ted Leo’s music.