Jersey's Best Dancers

Written by: PP on 24/10/2009 03:00:40

Everyone following the music scene will at least have heard of the name Lifetime in some context, even if all too few people have actually stood face to face with a Lifetime record. Read an interview with any of your favorite post-hardcore, punk, hardcore or even emo band and the name Lifetime will pop up almost without exception during the mandatory "which bands influenced you" question. Now, if you're at all like me, you're looking at a New Jersey band who has put out only four albums since they released their debut in 1993, and you're kind of wondering what the hype is all about. Then you listen to the band's 2007 reunion album and begin to understand a part of the hype. Then you go back to their classic albums like "Jersey's Best Dancers", and start banging your head against the wall for not having learned about the band earlier.

So yeah, if there's one Lifetime album you should start out with, it's "Jersey's Best Dancers". I'm not saying it's the best Lifetime album, because that's a discussion with an infinite loop when it comes to the fans of the band, I'm just saying it's the album that best embodies what Lifetime is all about: fast, melodic punk-hardcore with a perfect mix of rough edges thanks to the production and melodic vocal lines that you'll be singing along for years to come. I've only been singing along for two years now, but I know of quite a number of people that bought the album back in 1997 and who are still maintaining that "Jersey's Best Dancers" is their favorite album in the punk hardcore genre, which is really saying something isn't it? That's 12 years of listening experience without the dated feeling.

Anyway enough hype about the record, maybe I should talk about the songs instead. "Turnpike Gates" opens the album and sees Lifetime come crashing out the gates with a perfect mixture of raw aggression and hyper melodic vocal lines. The strain on vocalist Ari Katz's voice is something a certain Anthony Green took advantage of on a seminal EP by a then tiny band called Saosin, even if Ari never quite borders the screaming territory as closely as Green did. It really makes the 2007 self-titled album sound tame, polished, and overproduced in comparison. Next four songs follow a breakneck speed melodic hardcore format, each song memorable either because of the sheer display of melodic aggression or a grabbing vocal line here and there, before "Hey Katrina" slows things down to a level that most punk bands today try to imitate on an album or two, but fail so miserably. Only Lifetime can make a balladic song sound like pure melodic hardcore goodness, it seems, you really need to hear the song to understand it. "Cut The Tension", however, is probably the tune I'd most likely describe as the quintessential Lifetime sound. Katz's melodic vocals have just the right amount of passion, aggression and melody to make it sound awesome, plus the guitars race by you as pure melodic punk godhood at this point. Although that's common to every song on the record, so I don't even know why I need to highlight it here.

Other highlights include "The Truth About Lars", "How We Are", "Young, Loud, And Scotty"... heck, the whole album really. What's most interesting about "Jersey's Best Dancers" is how after just two listens, it's enough to convince the listener how good it is regardless of genre affiliation. I know a lot of people who don't normally like melodic hardcore, but I know for a fact that "Jersey's Best Dancers" is the sort of record that will appeal to them. It's the sort of stepping-stone record to a genre that's full of fucking amazing bands who one won't understand before one's in love with "Jersey's Best Dancers", a genre-defining release, which really feels like an understatement.


Download: How We Are, Turnpike Gates, Hey Katrina, Cut The Tension
For the fans of: Shook Ones, Daggermouth, Capital, Kid Dynamite, Smartbomb
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.07.1997
Jade Tree

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