You Should Be Living

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Twothirtyeight's second album for Tooth & Nail, You Should Be Living, finds the band keeping a certain faithfulness to the dark, angular sound found on its last album, Regulate the Chemicals, but also explores a few other areas of rock. The album was produced by James Paul Wisner, who's produced such other acts as Further Seems Forever, the Rocking Horse Winner, and Dashboard Confessional. His production skills are quite professional and capable, and make the album polished without losing its good low-end sound or the powerful guitar that Twothirtyeight uses from time to time. Musically, this foursome is primarily an indie rock band, and never strays far from the path of that style. However, the bandmembers also include aspects of emo, indie pop, and various branches from the tree of indie. No matter what the style, though, all are under the great umbrella of introspection and outlying melancholy that lyricist Chris Staples hoists as a canopy to cover the songs. Staples continues his intelligent dialogue as displayed on past albums, with songs analyzing culture and the failings it inspires. While it may seem that such songs are everywhere in the world of emo today, Staples truly has a knack for making the songs come alive lyrically, and the use of the guitar hook draws the listener in for the kill. Whether it's songs about the burden of credit card debt, the abhorrence of school, or shaving in a friend's bathtub while looking at pictures of friends, the lyrics end up sticking in one's head pretty quickly. The latter subject is the theme of the appropriately titled "The Bathroom Is a Creepy Place for Pictures of Your Friends," an acoustic tune that winds down the album quite nicely and helps seal the deal on this fine display of the indie rock spirit. While not entirely original, You Should Be Living is nevertheless a solid listen for fans of Cursive, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pedro the Lion, and the like.