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Before The End by Levellers

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Reviewed on 1st August 2008.


Before The End

By Levellers

'Before The End' isn't the Levellers at their best. It sees them forgo most of their folk leanings in favour of a pounding drumbeat that runs throughout the whole of the song, and will probably leave you with a massive headache.

The Levellers do throw a few curveballs to try and flesh out 'Before The End,' but most of these sit awkwardly together. These include a choir-like "ahhhh" that pops up roughly three quarters through the song and then vanishes roughly three seconds later, leaving the listener completely bemused. Then there's a swift nod towards the Levellers' folk leanings in the form of a flutter of string instruments, but it's so brief you might just miss it. Finally, there's an echoey sound effect on the verse's "over and over again" line that's just plain cheesy. None of these really mesh, and they certainly don't distract from that relentless pounding.

However, on the positive side this song is peppered with impossibly addictive female backing vocals, which are short and crunchy, and the perfect counterpoint to the heavy drumbeats. Never before has a simple "ah-hah" contributed so much to a song. It's inventive and addictive enough to make you overlook all 'Before The End's shortcomings, and reach for the repeat button.

B-side 'TV Suicides' is a stripped-down affair, featuring Mark Chadwick's voice over a rattling acoustic guitar, and not much else. It's remarkably catchy, and manages to tackle emotive issues without any bleeding-heart cheesiness. It's testament to the Levellers' song writing skills that they can produce something that's almost guaranteed to get you singing along, despite scant musical accompaniment. It's easy to see why this is the B-side - after all, it's neither a big, heart-wrenching ode to world tragedies or an attention-grabbing folk-punk number. However, in many respects it's actually a lot better than the title track.



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