By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: October 23, 2020
September 18, 2020
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Up/Down Records
The Texas alternative rock band Blue October was established by singer-songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Justin Furstenfeld, drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld, and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye twenty-five years ago. Their currently rounded out by bassist Matt Noveskey and guitarist Will Knaak. The band, most notably frontman Justin has been through a lot over the years. Justin’s struggles with mental illness and drug addiction -along with his road to sobriety- are on display in their documentary, Get Back Up, that was released earlier this year. This Is What I Live For is a statement to the seven years documented in, Get Back Up. Their tenth full-length album was self-produced by Justin himself and additionally engineered by his music partner Eric Holtz at Justin’s own, Up/Down Studios.
This Is What I Live For is the ultimate redemptive story. This is a mainstay throughout the album’s lyricism. All the members of Blue October are now sober and mending relationships that have been broken for some time. Three tracks on the album feature appearances by Sound of Ceres frontwoman Karen Hover, Longwave frontman Steven Schiltz, and one track even features Justin’s daughter Blue Reed for the very first time. Earlier this year, in an interview done with another member of Reasonably Late, Justin described the brand new album saying, “It’s my sad rock album…It was incredibly hard because it was so sad and so romantic…It’s just a really beautiful, romantic rock album. If you like the ‘Hate Me’ stuff and the ‘Into The Ocean’ stuff, you’ll really like it. There’s just so much sadness.”
Record after record, Justin’s songwriting continues to evolve. This Is What I Live For is the perfect embodiment of the old with the new. It sees the return of sad and depressive lyrics, mixed with the intricate music stylings showcased on their previous albums, finally spun with some of the pop elements that have been made prominent in some of the band’s more recent records. While the lyrics Justin wrote for this album show another harrowing look into his life and mind, as they always do, the music on This Is What I Live For gives off the absolute opposite tone with its upbeat art-rock and alternative rock sound.
“I Laugh At Myself” opens up the thirteen track album setting the tone for the remainder. Justin spills his guts out in the lyrics in such an emotive way that it’s surely meant to tug at the heartstrings of its listeners. The simple little number shifts into the track, “The Way I Used To Love You,” with incredible ease. The sombre second track shows the same characteristics as the album-opening track but in a more delicate, soft-spoken manner. “Love Stupid” features Karen Hover, and it opens as a large anthemic, bass-driven rock song, but both Justin and Karen take things down just as fast as things started to duet on the track, again in a soft and almost whispering manner. Steve Schiltz, the frontman of the indie rock band Longwave is featured on both vocals and guitar on the following track, which is also the album’s title track, “This Is What I Live For.” Which an unapologetic Blue October alternative rock song. The fifth song on the album, “Fight For Love,” is likely to be one of Justin’s top favourites as it features for the very first time his daughter Blue Reed on vocals. This anthemic tune is sure to last at the back of all its listener’s heads if it isn’t already since its release as a single earlier this year. The song features an infectious chorus, piercing vocal harmonies, hard-hitting drums, and bouncy keyboards.
The album’s lead single, “Oh My My,” holds the upbeat, irresistible veil existing on the album. The band is no stranger to hiding more foreboding themes buried down in their songs while skillfully using upbeat sounds. “Moving Along (So Long)” is a little folky alt. rock number situated in the heart of the album, which makes it one of its standouts. The tune, “Completely,” is probably the most pop the entire album gets, and its vocal effects truly bring a new emotive feel to the song that anyone will believe was truly required to propel this song over the edge. “Stay With Me” is an extraordinary track. Justin’s passionate, intense songwriting shines brightly throughout its entirety. It’s part spoken word, part rock song. Additionally, “Stay With Me” is one of the biggest on the album. Not only musically, but also clocking in just over six minutes long. The metaphors in the lyricism on the third last track, “The Weatherman,” are some of the most clever on the entire album. They can be interpreted in many ways, this one more than certain intentional on Justin’s part when writing the track.
Blue October’s tenth album is their best album yet. This Is What I Live For is both their most upbeat album musically to date, while it additionally is one of their most sad and embracing albums too. The lyrics on the album touch on various subjects, but the sole purpose is to trigger various emotions in its listeners. Rather this is to fall in love with somebody, miss somebody, or want to do something outrageous with your life. Their tenth album over twenty-five years is an accomplishment of its own, and it’s certainly going to leave a lasting impression with its listeners. While the album cycle is just beginning for This Is What I Live For, I can’t wait to see what Justin and the rest of the band come up with next.