Review: Head North – ‘The Last Living Man Alive Ever in the History of the World’
Posted: by Colin
On first impression, “complex” is the only appropriate description of The Last Living Man Alive Ever in the History of the World. Skeptics could describe the nearly hour-long, fourteen song album as ambiguous and disorganized. Anxious listeners might worry Head North has bitten off more than they can chew; after all, this is only their debut full-length. But like any boundary-pushing work of art, it requires patience. Is The Last Living Man intentionally complex? Possibly, but its complication adds to its genius.
The album’s depth is not due to the numerous introductions like “Don’t Lose All Your Friends”, the brief intermissions such as “Bombs Over”, or even the bizarre four-minute long spoken-work track, “Somewhere, ND”. Instead, its born from the layered acoustic infusion into Head North’s electric grunge rock. What’s more perplexing than some of the indiscernible lyrical themes throughout The Last Living Man, is how Head North made the combination work so harmoniously. The best sample is found on the vocal-driven “Pulse” where acoustic guitars and a disciplined drum beat softly meander until the song breaks free into a frenzied assault of electric guitar solos. “Head North is a Business” also highlights the sound’s synergy and serves as a needed jolt in the beginning stages of the album as a frantic, electric riff powers through the strumming and picking of acoustic guitars.
Even the most ardent defenders of The Last Living Man will concede that it is an exhausting listen. On multiple occasions, the album nearly comes to a grinding halt, only to slowly regain momentum. That doesn’t mean the album isn’t satisfying, but akin to Reverie Lagoon by Seahaven, or Goodness by The Hotelier in the sense that patience is required for the return. Like the closer, “Fallow”, a song that would make Manchester Orchestra proud with its massive wall of sound that could blow the roof off any venue in the country.
Even if The Last Living Man doesn’t grab you after the first listen, struggle with it. The album is as dynamic as it is mysterious. It’s weird, explorative and risky in a creatively intelligent way. Sometimes boundary-pushing albums don’t register immediately and this one may be no different, but it’s sure to be one that I’ll be reminding you of on my end of the year list.