Described by the band as ‘Our love letter to the city of Hull’, Life’s third album, appropriately titled ‘North East Coastal Town’, finds Merrick (Mez) Sanders-Green and his bandmates examining how much of an impact and influence – both positive and negative – your surroundings have on you as an individual: ‘Originally, you want to get out of your hometown but then, on reflection, you realise how much that shaped you. And I do mean it – Hull itself has shaped us all as individuals: its geography, its history, its community and what we’ve immersed ourselves in outside of the band, as well.”
The angular, post-punk guitars and brooding bass line of ‘Friends Without Names’ open the record in intense style as Mez spits out lyrics in almost spoken-word style – ‘Dust against my lips, as I spit, I really miss ya’ – before going on to reaffirm how much he misses the subject of the song before things come crashing down in the climax. Recent single ‘Big Moon Lake’ follows with its wonky guitar sound that recalls early Supergrass and observations on the mundanity of modern life that give Yard Act a run for their money: ‘I slept in late today and, yes, I slept in yesterday. I think I’m spending too much on fairly average takeaways’. ‘Incomplete’ continues in this vein as Mez tries to find some hope and excitement in the relentless and exhausting misery of Tory Britain: ‘I wake up every morning feeling incomplete, I go out every evening and get no sleep’.
Clocking in at over 6 minutes long, ‘Duck Egg Blue’ is the centrepiece of the album and recalls ‘This Is Hardcore’-era Pulp or Arab Strap with its biting observations: ‘Why do you feel this way? Man, I’m shattered and I’ve got nothing else to say’ This is followed by the tribal ‘Shipping Forecast’ that mixes ferocious drums, distorted vocals and stop-start noisy riffs into something quite glorious. ‘Self Portrait”s sound harks back to ’70s punk although the words – that seem like a form of self-therapy – couldn’t be more relevant to the modern world: ‘My imperfect body houses my imperfect mind’.
Coming across like the result of a grappling match between Interpol and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the penultimate ‘Our Love is Growing’ is altogether more melodic and melancholic with powerful lyrics about love and life – and makes it clear how some people make all the misery worth it and are worth fighting for. This is followed by ‘All You Are’, a slow-burning anthem that continues to spread this important message: ‘I love what we’ve become. You bite my lip, I use my tongue’; ‘Allow me to grow and live inside your skin, all you are is everything’.
More introspective than before, ‘North East Coastal Town’ is a record that examines every aspect of life – from the ugliest times to the most beautiful moments…