Posted by: will | July 2, 2007

Ted Leo And The Pharmacists…

Ted Leo And The Pharmacists “Living With The Living” (Touch And Go)

Buy it at Insound!

Ted Leo is a model of quality. Perhaps I did not coin the phrase but I like to refer to him simply as the “motherfuckin’ man.” Leo rarely releases anything that is not worthy of much accolade. That is why it seems so odd to me that his latest album, Living With The Living, has been overlooked by many. I must include myself in that, especially considering how much of a fan I have been of Leo’s past work. So, why has Living With The Living seemingly fallen by the wayside?

First off, this is Ted Leo’s first album in three years. Mr. Leo’s former label, Lookout Records, folded after his last album, 2004’s Shake The Streets. At 15 songs and a playing length of an hour, Living With The Living‘s scope is huge. Because of that, the album appears to lack the focus that Ted Leo is certainly known for in his past work. Leo seems to have fallen victim to over-ambition. That is not to say that there is not an abundance of great material here though. Leo still has a pop-sense about him that is undeniable. “Who Do You Love?”, “Bottle Of Buckie” and the infectious “La Costa Brava” are some of the best songs Leo has ever written. Leo still finds time to get political like he often does with the rousing aggression of “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” However, sadly, Leo rarely touches on the majestic sounds of his masterpiece, 2001’s The Tyranny Of Distance. The emotional quality of his best songs seems missing on Living With The Living and that is a shame. The one instance where it shows up is in the fantastic “The Last Brigade” which goes on for seven minutes but never feels long or forced in any way. Instead of jumping from genre to genre, Leo would have been well-suited to focus his song-writing and cut off the excess fat. There is simply no need for such an amazing artist to spread himself this thin.

All negatives aside, Living With The Living is still a worthy album that continues Leo’s sincere, heart-on-sleeve work. The problem is that Leo has set the bar so high that he was bound to come up short sooner or later. While Living With The Living may not have grabbed me like his earlier work has done, the album is yet another fine addition to his already impressive catalog. And yeah, by the way, Ted Leo is still the “motherfuckin’ man.”

RIYL: Peter, Bjorn And John, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson


Ted Leo And The Pharmacists – The Sons Of Cain (mp3)

Ted Leo And The Pharmacists – Bomb.Repeat.Bomb. (mp3)



  1. Bomb Repeat Bomb always gets me especially angry, after I read about the CIA’s history with Arbenz government.
    You’ve got to hand it to Ted. No artist I know tackles the politics of tyranny with the sincerity that Ted does.

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