Better Luck Next Time – A Lifetime of Learning
Release Date: May 3rd, 2011
Record Label: Kid Tested Records
Better Luck Next Time haven’t grown much since they last released a full-length in 2008. On A Lifetime of Learning, they’re still putting out the same 4-chord, palm-muted pop-punk that made Blink-182 and New Found Glory popular in their early careers. You could say they’re beating a dead… well, it used to be a dead horse, but here in 2011, it’s more like an indistinguishable heap of flesh. There’s nothing on this album that hasn’t been done, then re-done and done again.
Good thing, then, that none of this matters too much when it comes to Better Luck Next Time. At least, not if you approach the album with a proper perspective. Like the old cliché goes, they never pretend they’re anything more than what they are. A Lifetime of Learning is the sound of four people who are willfully oblivious of trends playing music they love. That’s it. Looking at it as anything more runs the risk of missing the point.
Under this light, the band just has to sound like they believe in themselves for this album to be worthwhile. And they do. The main thing you’ll notice here is that they rock with a lot of skill and fervor. It’s not hard to play pop-punk, but not everyone can write a good hook. Tracks like “Charades,” “The Soundtrack to My High School Years” and “Trapped Inside Me” are penned with the infectious nob cranked high. The passion they poured into these songs is audible too, which is vital because it helps us look over much of their derivative nature.
The second half of the album contains a collection of demos and live performances that cover both present material and older songs, making A Lifetime of Learning a rather diverse collection. It clocks in at 21 tracks overall, meaning ten of them are bonus material. This is interesting because it gives us a glimpse of not only how some of the A Lifetime of Learning songs sounded in their early stages, but also how songs from previous albums started out (“Shoebox Memories,” “Chapters,” “Second Chance,” “In the End,” “Truth For Two”) – a real treat for longtime followers.
Back to the main meat of the album, though: You know exactly what you’re getting when you pop it in. It’s strictly traditional pop-punk, and most of the time, it’s done right. Sometimes, all you’re craving is a band that plays their heart out without ever worrying about being innovative or original. At the end of the day, genuine music isn’t judged by how it stacks up against the trends of its time, but how it makes you feel. Better Luck Next Time are here to make you feel like you’re a teen again. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Off this album I liked 2 songs: Soundtrack to my high school years and Gone but not forgotten. For me their best is the second, Start From Skratch: those piano riffs still get me every time.
I'd add Allister in the RIYL too.
gone but not forgotten is probably my favorite track, and I agree 100% with the score...I'm just pissed they have gotten too tied up in that whole Japanese record label that delayed their U.S. release date like 6 months.
Gone but Not Forgotten is the fucking jam. I love when bands play simply because they love to play and dont give 2 shits what anyone has to say about it. I think that sums Better Luck Next Time up pretty well.