The Living End return with what is probably their best album in over ten years. It ticks every box it needs to, and then some. This is their first release under the Rise Records banner, and their first time working with producer Tobias Kuhn. Tobias is better known for producing multiple titles for folk/electronic band Milky Chance, so, it’s bit of a gamble to go with a producer who more often than not is embedded in the electronic music landscape. But it paid off handsomely for the men from Melbourne, Australia.
After the release of Shift, and to a lesser extent the couple of the albums before it, fans had every right to be skeptical upon the release of lead single, “Don’t Lose It.” It had all the right elements fans want in a Living End song, but there was still that nagging feeling in the back of people’s heads that every album has one of these songs, regardless of whether the album is good or not. This was no trap. “Don’t Lose It” was a gateway into what will go down as one of the best albums Chris, Scott, and Andy have released in a very long time. Chris Cheney’s vocal style has been compared to Green Day’s Billie Joe before, and this song does nothing to dissipate that. The song sits as well in The Living End’s arsenal as it would in Green Day’s.
I never thought an Australian band would pen a song about American politics but “Death of the American Dream” touches on themes such as gun laws, American politics, and world politics as a whole. The song is a tale of two halves with the first half being an upbeat, angry, rockabilly anthem, while the second half being a brooding lo-fi acoustic arrangement.
I can’t put my finger on what makes “Proton Pill” so great, but it’s hands down my favorite song on the record. There is certain Tony Hawk soundtrack charm to it that tickles me pink and brings out something nostalgic in me.
Chris sits down with just an electric guitar for much of “Amsterdam” which could become The Living End’s “Lost In Hollywood.” It has that lyrical hook where I can see a crowd of people uniting as one to sing:
Oh Amsterdam, I don’t who I am, or where I stand, Oh Amsterdam…”
It’s the type of song that I can see having that uniting power to bring a crowd together in a live show.
Wunderbar ticks every box it needs to as a Living End album, however, I am ecstatic that this is starting position because I still feel like the band can go to another level. As a band that’s been around for 24 years, they have every right to be comfortable doing what they do, because they regularly sell out shows domestically and internationally. However, I feel like they wouldn’t have signed a contract to a building record label in Rise Records, if they weren’t building something new themselves as well. Wunderbar translates to “wonderful” in German, and that’s just what this album is.
I can’t wait to see where Chris, Andy, and Scott go from here. The world is at their doorstep.