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Life - Spring CD (album) cover





2.18 | 13 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Spring' - Life (3/10)

If you have a moment, I'd like to talk about Life.

Somewhere in the fray of American blues, psychedelia and the fuzz of garage rock, Life was born. Following the trend of many late 60's European acts, Life attempted to emulate American culture through voracious use of the 12 bar progression, mouth-organ and guitar leads aplenty. These efforts and influences resulted in "Spring", an album that's held in some regard by garage rock experts, if I'm not mistaken. Even for 1971 though, Life'ssound feels outdated and recycled. Rehashing the sound and tricks of the decade past, Life's style is predictable and underwhelming; their execution rough and occasionally downright amateurish. There's a garage charm to this album, but "Spring" doesn't come close to comparing to the music it desperately tries to emulate. Unfortunately, Life would never get an opportunity to improve their sound, as they would break up a year later in mid-tour.

Although Life and "Spring" are most often associated with the Krautrock movement, this is much less about the sound of the album, and more about who took part in it. Julius Schittenhelm (best known for his contributions to Amon Duul) was the producer behind the album. Barring that, Life performs a very familiar brand of blues rock, with virtually none of the strange experimentation and sonic density Krautrock is known for. Its context aside, I would have guessed "Spring" was the work of a gang of American youngsters, trying to emulate their rock idols. This sort of American blues influence on European music was widespread throughout the late 60's, arguably best exemplified by Led Zeppelin's first two albums. In fact, the beginning of "Spring" sounds as if it could be a nod in the direction of Zeppelin's blues rock, minus Jimmy Page's legendary distortion. The instrumentation is straightforward and plain, offering little room for the imagination to run amok. The guitar tones are largely clean, and the drum beats simplistic to a fault.

The most interesting aspect of Life's sound are the vocals of Linus. While the rest of the band fails to achieve any sort of grit with their performance, Linus delivers a surprisingly diverse and interesting performance, going everywhere from soft whispers to a yell, suitable tenor and everything in between. Particularly from a band that otherwise sticks to colouring within the lines, it's refreshing to hear a vocalist that tries to go so many places with his voice. Unfortunately, while the range and variety of styles are interesting, his more conventional singing is just as underwhelming as the rest of the band. The songwriting on the album follows suit in this pattern of mediocrity- when Life aren't being derivative or outright copycats, their more experimental ideas never go anywhere, often feeling like sketches of songs that could have been.

Although much of Life's sound is painfully bland, the use of a flute gives their sound some much needed depth. The album's more ambitious set of a bonus tracks also hint that Life could have achieved something much better, had they stuck with it. Instead, "Spring" is the band's one output. Bland musicianship and forgettable songwriting make this one an album for the dustbin. At least it's got a nice cover!

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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