Four Letter Lie - What a Terrible Thing to Say
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: February 19, 2008
Rewind to late 2006. Four Letter Lie’s Victory Records debut, Let Your Body Take Over, has just been released making them one of Minneapolis’s first new school punk/hardcore acts to put out a record on a recognizable label. It was an exciting time for the Twin Cities and a sign that a young band from the Midwest could someday leave the city limits for bigger and better things. When I heard Four Letter Lie’s debut record I remember being somewhat disappointed, as what I heard was not the same steely hardcore band I had come to know. Instead, what I heard was a meld of sugar sweet pop with a few seemingly misplaced screams. I began to wonder if signing a record contract also meant giving up your musical integrity. Thankfully, Four Letter Lie are a little more resilient than I thought.
While not void of blemishes, What a Terrible Thing to Say is a considerable step forward for Four Letter Lie. The record showcases a band that is as musically tight as they ever have been. It’s obvious that they have grown together as musicians over the last two years of extensive touring. What a Terrible Thing to Say also finds co-vocalists Brian Nagan and Kevin Skaff perfecting their singing/screaming alternations.
“Nothing But a Ghost,” the record’s first single, is proof of the aforementioned growth. It opens with an ascending guitar riff that leads right into Skaff’s glossy vocals. So far, my interest is piqued. Immediately one can recognize the band’s use of more complex instrumentation. Guitarist Conor Kelly and Skaff share fluidly harmonized guitar riffs that compliment Nagan’s relentless yelps.
On the album’s title track, “What a Terrible Thing to Say,” Four Letter Lie seem to be making a statement. It would appear that they are aware of the more unenthusiastic reviews of their first record, Let Your Body Take Over, and want everyone to know they are not showing signs of relenting. Nagan screeches with aggression, “We're on the top looking down and you keep giving us hell / We've heard this all before / You think I'm phased by the words that you say.” Unfortunately, an awkwardly placed whisper-quiet outro somewhat lessens the effect of this song.
“It’s Coming Your Way” is the album’s most relentless track and perhaps the most interesting, leaving Nagan as the sole vocalist while showing off the rigid rhythm section of drummer Derek Smith and bassist John Waltmann. They abandon their traditional formula of singing then screaming for dense, unabashed hardcore.
Fans of Four Letter Lie’s Let Your Body Take Over will find much to like on What a Terrible Thing to Say. All in all, it doesn’t show a great departure from their original combination of heavy metal pop music. Pubescent teens interested in scoring extra scene points should be sure to tack this album on to their collection. While this effort shows signs of maturity, it may take Four Letter Lie another album before they fully hit their stride. I’ll be anxiously awaiting round three, boys.