Unwritten Law – Live and Lawless

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Unwritten Law

Live and Lawless - Suburban Noize Records

Live records are a tricky thing to do. Sometimes they work really well and become one of the cornerstones of a band’s career (I’m thinking Blink-182‘s Mark, Tom & Travis Show). Others serve as a fantastic look back at a band’s glorious career (Good Riddance‘s The Final Show is equally as powerful for its recording time frame as it is for the content within it). Sometimes bands put out live albums to show that they’re the biggest band in the world (Green Day‘s Bullet in a Bible) and sometimes they simply remind you that the band would be much more fun to see live then to listen to live (Against Me!‘s American’s Abroad!!!). At times they’re a cheap grab for cash (see any Sex Pistols live CD) but every once in a while you get that gem of a live record. That record makes it worth the sticker price (Bruce Springsteen’s Live in Dublin was worth every penny of that 50 dollars). However, for the most part, live records are for completists and don’t really offer much more than a simple collection of current “hits.” Unwritten Law‘s Live & Lawless is one of those live records.

Far from being a total waste of time, Live & Lawless really doesn’t offer anything new- for old or fans or new. Featuring sixteen live songs and a bonus version of Shoulda Known BetterUnwritten Law hit on all of their college radio singles like Cailin, Rescue Me, and Seein’ Red. For those unaware of the sound of the band, it’s easy to sum up as pop-rock. These live versions carry the same shimmering shine as their studio albums and while some songs (Babylon and Up All Night) feature a harder edge to them, Unwritten Law normally stay to the radio-friendly side of the spectrum.

Sonically, the band sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, vocalist Scott Russo seems to have lost some of his edge and growl on his delivery, it’s never more evident than it is on Save Me. Oddly enough, the slightly smoother vocal textures doesn’t really sound too bad; it would’ve just been nice to have a rawer edge on it. As it is, Live & Lawless feels a little too produced and only the occasional female scream or sing-along portion really stick out in the mix.

In the same way that Against Me!‘s American Abroad!! reminded me how much fun it is to see them live, Live & Lawless shows that a live show by Unwritten Law has the potential to be rather entertaining. But as an album, it’s not worthy of many repeats. There’s no hidden gems or unreleased songs, there’s nothing really of note. It works as a “best-of” but is for completists only as casual fans won’t find anything within it to be impressed by.