Originally posted on January 18, 2011
Extra Life returned to the stage last Saturday night, playing to a packed room at The Silent Barn. (Hear clips from the seven-song set in the video above.) Commingling with the often-chilling lyrics is music that at times exhibits all the delicacy of medieval chanson, at others the aggressive drive of metal. The unconventional metric patterns and detailed orchestration choices—listen to the first song with headphones to catch the high, metallic-sounding electric guitar line accompanying the acoustic intro—bear the marks of a songwriter accustomed to experimenting with sound. Not surprisingly, the band’s creator and songwriter, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Charlie Looker has a history of mixing “pop” (using the word in the broadest sense possible here) forms with experimental techniques.
Highlights from the set include an exuberant looping synth pattern overlaying bass, guitar and drums in the fifth song (about 4:19 in the video): one can almost see multicolored splashes of light emanating from the group. In the last song (6:32) the voice of the jeering parent portrayed in the lyrics is echoed in the weighty, lugubrious movements from the band.