Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Letdown

October 14, 2003

“Intelligent hardcore” is not a phrase you hear often. In fact, the words seem to comprise a serious oxymoron, just like the term “happy hardcore”. But, humor aside, The Letdown excels at the aforementioned genre of intelligent hardcore. In fact, I hope they start a movement with this EP.

The odd moniker of the genre is explained when you look at the song titles. One is in French, and another contains a word you’ve never heard before: semaphore. Take a glance at the lyrics, and you’ll understand even better. These guys are very intelligent and can write extremely well. Their lyrics are truly poetic, as most actually rhyme. They give their take on three topics mostly: love, death, and society. They bitterly cry for their love life, even though they never say the word love. When talking of death and society, they are violent, using graphic, vivid terms to portray their emotions. Yet they never curse, showing that you can be hard without being coarse. They are so good that that I read all the lyrics in succession, which I don’t ever do.

Musically, it’s hardcore with some tipping of their proverbial hat to its roots. It’s basically your average melodic hardcore: a mix of screaming and singing over thrashing riffs and subdued melodicism. It throws in some tender moments, and some other non-hardcore moments, but it doesn’t break much new ground for the genre. Then again, it sounds good, and it’s basically a vehicle for the vocals and lyrics anyway. The vocals which deliver the passionate writings that I talked of earlier are varied throughout. They manifest themselves in various states of frenzy and calmness, but they are always excellent. Their backup vocals are very well done as well, solidifying the feel the lead vocals give off. The powerful breakdown of “This Form of Murder” and the all-out frenzy of “A Contour in Lipstick” feature the best The Letdown has to offer.

Contrary to their name, The Letdown is highly exciting. To the person who listens to hardcore often, this will be nothing new, but good nonetheless. But to the occasional hardcore listener, there will be a plethora of stuff to investigate here. Great lyrics, thrashing riffs, singing, screaming, and all the power to pull it off with gusto. Hardcore has been given a bad rap, as a genre for people who hate everything, have no lyrical talent, and only enough musical talent to thrash angrily. But there is hope. The road that leads to hardcore getting the respect it deserves begins in the recovery room.




Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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