Life In A Tree are a five-piece alternative rock band hailing from Wisconsin, U.S.A. They are currently blazing a trail through the music scene, winning various Battle of The Bands competitions including Oktoberfest. Their music shows many influences, ranging from alt. rock bands like Paramore, Fall Out Boy and New Found Glory with also of pop-punk elements bands like Green Day and Blink 182.
There are even fleeting shades of metal bands like Killswitch Engage amongst the thirteen songs on this album, and as lead vocals are shared by both female and male members, it brought to mind The Pixies and Sonic Youth. Keyboardist Andrew Conley throws in some electronic elements to complete a truly eclectic sound.
Upon listening to their music the listener would not suspect a rather surprising fact: they are all currently sixteen (except drummer Jimmy Cooper, the elder statesman of the group at seventeen). Molly Lutz, singer and bass player, has an extremely mature voice for her age and overall the band sound like they having been playing for years. After listening, their age becomes an irrelevant issue except as a good press angle.
Opening track Reach sets out their musical manifesto in no uncertain terms, a wall of serrated edge guitars and blistering drums joining forces with Lutz’ impassioned vocals. Whereas many alt. rock bands can’t seem to get beyond a decent riff, Life In A Tree have good pop nous and a gift for memorable chorus hooks, this song being a perfect example. They are more raw and rough round the edges than, say, the polished pop sheen of Paramore, not afraid to be angular and dissonant and this makes them exciting and unpredictable.
Joint vocalist and guitarist Tyler Miller takes the lead on next track If Only Trees Could Speak, which has another catchy hook, doubling up with Lutz in harmony to great effect. There is some nifty Travis Barker style hi hat work going on and the manic energy continues into Objects In The Rear View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (not a Meat Loaf cover, in case you were wondering.) This song features some short bursts of electronica and piano which adds nice sonic colour.
Vocal duties are shared on I Have A Problem Called “You Disorder” (great title) and melds metal influences with punk rock. 3 Hunna Thousand slows the pace down a little with some nice Green Day style tremolo guitar then a frantic middle section containing an awesome Billy Talent-esque riff.
Top Of The World is another good track that is marred a little by an overly busy arrangement where it can be hard to follow what’s going on at times, while The Only Things… is more enjoyable breakneck pop-punk. Circles is a pleasing change of pace, beginning with picked acoustic guitar and showing a more gentle, emotionally vulnerable side to the band.
Get The Best is another good showcase for the powerful duel vocal combination of Lutz and Miller, while Oxygen is the album’s real ballad, just Lutz and a gentle guitar. It is affecting and shows their musical versatility and maturity, emotional with being at all mawkish. Some young or simply more limited rock bands suffer from every song sounding similar, but they avoid that trap.
Gravitate has one of the strongest choruses on the album, with a vocal grandeur that brought to mind the epic rock of Evancescence. Misoneism is a great song with a highly addictive vocal melody throughout that I was soon walking around humming. Closing track A New Place To Be is a solid finish to the album, which again shows some metal influences with a long vocal roar from Miller.
Overall, this is an extremely impressive album that belies their tender years, and has the scope and range of a band on their third or fourth album. Having several vocalists (guitarist DJ Underwood also sings) helps keeps things fresh throughout, and every song has some aspect to the sound that is unique. It is a band in the truest sense of the word, each member making their own unique contribution and forming a synergistic whole as every great band does. I can only see them going from strength to strength in the future, and there are several songs on here that would make excellent singles, so I expect to be hearing a lot more from Life In A Tree in the near future.
Verdict: 8.6 out of 10