This is the semi-factual yet emotionally gripping reality that Boston’s Kal Marks have turned from a mere phrase into a palpable work of art. Each song Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies works to further support this expression and explores different feelings toward life, from the sentimental moments to moments of raw anger and despair. While noticeably approaching the lighter side of life compared to its full-length predecessor Life is Murder, you’ll find plenty of darkness and captivating melancholy on Life is Alright, Everybody Dies.
Sometimes a new album can compliment a previous release, and sometimes the album stands strong on it’s own. Life is Alright, Everybody Dies can easily stand alone, but it also pairs well with Life is Murder, like a second chapter in a story. Lyrics like, “If he hurts you I’ll end his dreams” exemplify the more personal sentiments on Life is Alright, Everybody Dies, dealing with relationships or intimate subjects. Other lyrics, like on “Mankind,” resonate on a broader note as they explore anger toward “being nice to humanity” and other world problems. The album fluidly intermingles personal problems with societal problems and by doing so clearly conveys the important connection.
“Coffee,” debatably the best song on the album, clearly exemplifies the talent of all three members. The super groovy bass line follows the vocals for much of the song through it’s dynamic range while the simple and controlled drums follow each part with the appropriate amount of energy and calmness. The bass acts like a second guitar, leading the song with it’s tight rhythm and flawless execution. Everything starts to pick up as the 7-minute song reaches its end. “He’s tired and he’s wasted” is repeated in exhausted tone until everything calms down to a quiet hush. “There’s always something wrong with me/They will have their day in the sun,” Carl Shane begins to sing in a low voice. The music continues to build up until the triumphant last vocal lines are ended with an abrupt stop, leaving you with an array of different feelings and thoughts.
While the subject matter on Life is Alright, Everybody Dies has gotten slightly lighter, the music went in the other direction. Life is Murder has it’s share of murky tracks, but Life is Alright, Everybody Dies delves heartily into the realm of sludge. “Mankind,” “Sweet Lou,” and “Coffee” are three examples of the newfound heaviness Kal Marks execute with seeming ease. As a band who’ve proclaimed themselves tired of rock and roll, they are impeccable at creating the exact music they know they want. This may sound rudimentary to songwriting, but it can actually be a hard idea to accomplish. This is clear when a band releases completely different sounding albums back-to-back, for they may not yet know what they want their sound to be.
Kal Marks don’t have that problem. The song “Dorothy” puts that into perspective. It stands out due to it’s quiet, relaxed vocals, frequently altered dynamics and overall different feel. It’s experimental vibe dips in and out of straightforwardness as the song moves along, never excluding their unique tone or style. The track “It’s So Hard To Know How To Say Goodbye” supports that notion further by being even less like anything Kal Marks have ever written. Writing unconventional songs for Life is Alright, Everybody Dies shows that they knew they were looking to mix things up and keep it engaging, and they impressively achieved it.