LIFE’s "A Picture of Good Health" Is a Fever Dream (in a Good Way)
by Erin Christie
Hull-based post-punk band LIFE is chomping at the bit to begin this fall with a bang. Thankfully, their sophomore record, A Picture of Good Health (released September 20, 2019 via Afghan Moon in associate with PIAS), is explosive right out of the gate.
Following their acclaimed 2017 debut record, Popular Music and a few gigs opening for IDLES on their March/April 2019 UK Tour, LIFE has continued to attract audiences with their high energy and raw aggression, especially with the release of a record as stellar as this. Chock-full of angst-ridden rants about the state of the world and the ridiculousness of it all, A Picture of Good Health stands as a 2019 time capsule, covering the political turmoil, the egotism, and various ups-and-downs unique to the present day. Under the umbrella of the post-punk revival, it’s definitely a godsend that DIY bands like LIFE have been able to rise up out of the woodwork.
As if standing atop a milk crate with a megaphone, spouting his manifesto to the masses, Sanders-Green’s vocal style, a mix between that of a church preacher and a rally leader, begs for attention. Combined with the masterful contributions of Mick Sanders on guitar, Stewart Baxter on drums, and Lydia Palmeira on bass, each track is a definitive earworm.
“It feels like your life must mean something, but it points to nothing,” lead singer Mez Sanders-Green belts during the chorus of the lead single, “Good Health.” Despite its pessimistic undertone, it’s a sentiment that almost any twentysomething can relate to.
With a desire to “just lie and sleep in,” single “Bum Hour” speaks directly to the heart— combining infectious instrumentation with resonant lyrical material, LIFE may as well have released the next theme for us, fellow sacks of potatoes. Sometimes, we feel called to thrash around in a bath filled with soup while our mates are out on the town, you know?
Drawing on Muse’s anthemic “Uprising” opening riff, “Excites Me” evokes a similar uproar, amounting in one of the album’s highlights. I can only imagine how much the floor would tremble when it’s played live.
“Thoughts” is one of the cleverest album-inclusions, touching on how image-obsessed much of today’s society tends to be— influenced especially by social media, we’ve become quite artificial in terms of our self-expression so as to keep up appearances on the net. “I was thinking of building a church in a third world country to save my soul,” Green expresses, noting that he would incessantly document his act of goodwill via Instagram and Twitter. While listening to this biting commentary on how utterly shallow we can be, you can’t help but laugh, and maybe shudder at the thought that some of your friends might’ve complimented your dog without thinking it was actually cute (horrifying, I know).
The record closes with the 50-second spoken-word track, “New Rose in Love.” Backed by a deep, low hum, the vocals, brutal and pointed, stand out like a sore thumb. It’s an interesting place to leave this dynamic record, but it’s certainly memorable.
It’s been a second since I’ve personally come across a record that I’ve had zero qualms with and, to be honest, LIFE has rendered me stumped. Through-and-through, A Picture of Good Health is lyrically solid and touches on mainstream topics in a manner that doesn’t feel cheesy or over-rehearsed. Described as “a thunderous reminder of why guitar is mankind’s greatest creation” by Dork writer Ciaran Steward, it’s no question that LIFE has absolutely nailed it with this release.