The Life and Times, known as TLAT for short, are an alternative indie rock band originating from Kansas City, Missouri. They have been in existence since 2002, but the lineup has since changed on multiple occasions. It was in 2004 that the present lineup featuring Allen Epley, Eric Abert and Chris Metcalf first came into being as an official trio. In the years since, they have added new members and lost them too. Thus, in 2011, the 2004 trio of Epley, Abert and Metcalf became just a trio again. In 2011 they recorded No One Loves You Like I Do. The album was recorded at Earth Analog Studio near Champaign, Illinois. The vast majority of the album was recorded, a little over a year ago, in January 2011. Interestingly, the studio is where Allen Epley recorded with, former band, Shiner around a decade earlier, offering a nice symmetry to this portion of the band’s biography; a return to origins, if you will.
No One Loves You Like I Do was released in January 2012 on the SlimStyle Records label. The track listing for the album is quite intriguing. Each track is titled as a numbered day. So track one is day 6, track 2 is day 9 and so on. What I find interesting is that the days are not in chronological order and the number listing is incomplete – certain numbers are missed entirely. I resisted the urge to listen to the album in ‘day order’ as though intended as a narrative and decided to stick to the conventional track listing order. I did so as I find that albums are usually produced to be heard in the order they appear in the track listing and not by title. Moreover, this combined with the fact that, as mentioned, some numbers in the chronological sequence are skipped entirely made me feel that listening to the album in such an order would likely be a fruitless task anyway. Although, I must say the use of chronological day numbers to title the tracks did tempt me to try the album in day by day narrative style order and it may provide a thought provoking experiment for someone picking up the album for the first time with fresh ears.
For me, Day One is the best track on the entire album. The album does form a kind of fractured narrative with the vocalist also turning narrator. As you might guess from the title of the album, the major emotion of the album is love. A love that is at once heartfelt and intimidating, perhaps daunting even. The album is a story of love played out over a period of days – hence those track titles. Unfortunately, Day One is not a track indicative of the album as a whole. The potential is there, this isn’t a bad record, but it isn’t a great record either. It is an average, listenable record that doesn’t do the ambition of TLAT justice. It is saddening as the album has solid potential, but it simply doesn’t hit hard enough. Not to sound condescending, but perhaps another six months in the studio would have taken it to the next level, or perhaps TLAT don’t have the musical expertise to complete their vision and pull off the overall potential of the album, it’s difficult to say which. One thing is for sure, the album has its quality moments, but I personally hoped for more. Fans of the band will enjoy it, but the album falls short of reaching what were surely heady goals. The emotional ambition appears high, but the musical enactment is not nearly as far-reaching.