“Bomb.Repeat.Bomb.”Ted Leo may well be the best singer/songwriter working today.

A lofty claim, but not one that can’t be backed up quickly. Few who would listen to 2003’s Hearts Of Oak would be able to overlook the dramatic lyrics and hyper energized performance, evident in songs like “Where Have All The Rudeboys Gone?”. The album that followed, Shake The Sheets took Leo into even more charged political songs, releasing the album shortly before the 2004 US Presidential race.

3 years and an election behind, Ted Leo is no closer to satisfied, charging forward with renewed excitement and anger. Living With The Living follows in the grand tradition of Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model” and The Clash’s “London Calling” as an artist and a band completely concerned with getting a point across as much as entertaining.

A short sound collage leades directly into “Sons Of Cain” and the album makes no apolgies as Leo continues to proudly wear his influences on his sleeve and follow any whim to conclusion. The variety of song styles and genres bent into any given minute of the record might suggest some what of a mess to follow or that an artist is being eclectic for the sake of being eclectic (see: Beck). But pop sensibilities supercede all others, and no matter how deep into politcal commentary Leo chooses to wade from “Army Bound” to “Bomb.Repeat.Bomb” there is a “Bottle Of Buckie” to charm the ear. The Pharmacists fierce dedication to their craft keep the record moving and passionate. Even when they hit on a big rock moment like “The Toro And The Toreador” it doesn’t feel like its betraying their punk roots or even the indie scene they’re soaring about today.

Living With The Living finds its center in “La Costa Brava” and on most albums when you find that kind of song it ends up being the one you listen to most, like the whole hour was written around these 6 minutes. But the fun is the half hour before and after. One rock song can’t represent the sweet reggae “Unwanted Things” or the thumping march of “CIA”

I’ve tried to boil my record collections down to the essential tunes and the standalone singles, primed for shuffle and background play. Songs that don’t require set-up or follow-up. Thank Ted Leo for making Living With The Living and teaching me to love albums again.

“Bottle Of Buckie”