Levinhurst – Perfect Life

Levinhurst - Perfect LifeAn interestingly retro effort, Perfect Life is a bit of a manifesto for Levinhurst: it aims to bring some ’80s new wave feel back into the present with the help of some modern technology. And Levinhurst does carry the necessary pedigree to accomplish this; leading the trio is Lol Tolhurst, founding member of The Cure, with Cindy Levinson handling vocals and Dayton Borders providing some synth and sequencer wizardry.

If I have a gripe with Levinhurst’s debut effort, it lies more with the track sequencing than anything. Kicking off with a brief, atmospheric instrumental, the album really doesn’t properly start until the percolating intro of “Let’s Go” hits, and while it’s a decent song, it’s very repetitive lyrically, and even those lyrics are pretty lightweight compared to many of the other songs; thematically, I understand why “Let’s Go” is where it is, as an invitation to the rest of the album, but it’s one of the album’s weaker songs, so it really undermines that point. “Sorrow” hits next, and it’s immediately clear when I hear it that this should’ve been the lead track (and the lead single, but I’ll return to that point later). It sweeps into a dark, electronic rhythm worthy of early Eurythmics or Depeche Mode, with Levinson providing some of the best vocals on the whole disc. This song is actually what tipped me off to Levinhurst in the first place (when I heard it on Free Zone on WICR, Indianapolis – just a wee plug there).

The excellent vocals and interesting approach to instrumentation carries over into “Sadman”, another excellent track, and “Lost” is a delightful track that has, compositionally speaking, what I’d describe as musical red herrings – the chord and melodic progressions sometimes lead you to places where you would’ve had no reasonable expectation of the song going. Maybe that’s an example of writing stuff cleverly that only other songwriters would pick up on, or maybe it’s an example of writing in that distinctive let’s-break-the-rules-of-how-this-is-done style of the ’80s, but it’s a neat track all the same. A brief instrumental, “Insomniac”, follows, and it smacks just a little bit of early Depeche Mode, and after that comes the perky, swirling, begs-to-be-danced-to “Despair” – seems like a bit of a contradiction, doesn’t it?

The lead single for Perfect Life is “Hope”, and “Hope” is a decent song, but it’s somehow not as catchy as “Sorrow” or even “Let’s Go”; all I can figure is that the band (or the label) wanted something with an upbeat mood coming out of the starting gate. If they wanted something that sounded “up,” even the last song, “More / Mad”, would’ve fit the bill. After checking the credits in the CD booklet, I wonder if I wasn’t picking up on something else: “Hope” alone was recorded in a different studio and put together by a different producer. Something about it is a little “noisier” than some of the other tracks, with heavy distortion 3 out of 4introduced on some of the synth parts, and it just doesn’t seem entirely representative of the sound established on the rest of the album.

Perfect Life may not be a perfect album, but it does show great promise for Levinhurst. Hopefully they’ll get a chance to follow up on it.

Order this CD

  1. Vinti (1:13)
  2. Let’s Go (3:40)
  3. Sorrow (3:30)
  4. Sadman (5:41)
  5. Lost (4:14)
  6. Insomniac (1:33)
  7. Despair (3:48)
  8. Hope (3:03)
  9. Behind Me (4:09)
  10. Perfect Life (1:31)
  11. More / Mad (7:06)

Released by: Full Contact
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 39:30