It's been 20 years since Every Time I Die put out their Last Night In Town debut album. How, you should wonder, can they remain one of the most exciting, intelligent, feral, cunningly clever and electrifyingly brilliant bands on the planet? By whatever metric you choose to measure them, they continually exceed whatever requirement asked of them. Again, how? This was not a question answered in Radical so much as reaffirmed in its underlying truth: they are the best band.
Even by frontman Keith Buckley's own open-diary standards, Radical was an album of deep depth. Reaching up to his armpits into the subjects of drinking and his new sobriety, mental health, separating from his wife and daughter, and the road to rediscovering himself, it was the most open he'd ever been on record, something he told Kerrang! when discussing the impact his words would have on his own life. “I had to write about how miserable I was in my life to see that I didn’t belong there,” he told us. “It was radical, because I knew that once the album came out, there was no way that I could go back to the person I was before.”
This feeling of importance ran right to the centre of Radical. On Sly, Planet Shit and The Whip, they were incendiary, volatile. Everything was urgent, caught in a frenzy, as though trying to shake itself off itself. But even when Radical eased up, such as on the breath-catching Thing With Feathers, there was a feeling of a boiling pot beginning to go over.
So, the question again: in a year of music as thrilling, creative, broad and articulate as this, how have a band two decades and nine albums in topped things, with a record that still finds them cutting a little deeper and pushing a little harder than previously? We don't know. It's a riddle without an answer. But they have. And they're still doing the best version of themselves. (SL)