PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Lifestyle: Frontier

Ben Varkentine

Lifestyle

Frontier

Label: ArchEnemy
US Release Date: 2001-09-25
Amazon
iTunes

Close. Very close.

The first couple songs on this EP are a lot like having that girl you had a crush on all through your senior year of high school smile and invite you over to do your bit for water conservation by showering with her. That is to say, they're the fulfillment of some dreams.

I admire Lifestyle for the way they're trying to approximate the new wave sound. Spirited synthesizer sequences (and say that five times fast without spitting) drive "My Favorite Song", which lyrically recalls Laptop's "Greatest Hits". On that record, Laptop (Jesse Hartman) attempts to compliment his current girlfriend by telling her she's a compilation of the best of his former lovers; here, Lifestyle's frontman Sean Drinkwater narrows that down to comparing her to one song. With lines like "You're pretty but contrived," this is not as complimentary as the song's protagonist intends, and Lifestyle seem well aware of it. Drinkwater here grasps the keys to much great lyric-writing, both "new wave" and otherwise: Wit and self-awareness. Just when you're saying to yourself "that's only the first track -- can they sustain it?" the most excellent, exciting pop hook on the LP hits, the instantly engaging "It Doesn't Mean That I Don't Love You If I Forget to Call You Back". You'll be singing this to yourself at work after one hearing, which makes it the best song with a long title since Pet Shop Boys' "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore". "I Guess We Could Get Down" sounds like the kind of song which is more fun to dance to at a show than to listen to on a CD, but it's got a swagger to the bass (whether computer generated or not) that grows in appeal on repeated listening. "Are You Coming on to Me?" tells the story of dealing with a pass from your ex-girlfriend's best friend, with a straightforward lyric and functional music track that connects, but lacks character.

If this were 1985 Lifestyle would be trying to get on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, but they'd only make it to Better Off Dead. Which is not meant as a shot. Better Off Dead rightfully enjoys cult status, and Lifestyle deserves similar devotion. But Savage Steve Holland was not John Hughes, and Lifestyle is not Duran Duran, New Order or Erasure . . . yet. What they have achieved is Pseudo Echo. Again, I by no means wish to dismiss Lifestyle by this -- Pseudo Echo were a more interesting band than they're generally given credit for, and I can still listen to Love an Adventure with pleasure, as I do Frontier. And there's sufficient evidence on the EP, which acts as a teaser for a forthcoming second full-length by the group, to proclaim that Lifestyle have a good shot at making a breakthrough in the next couple of years. They're close. Very close.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.