In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, to honor Braid’s new record, we’re picking our favorite songs from “comeback” records.
Lifetime’s story isn’t that dissimilar from that of other short-lived, much-loved ’90s punk bands. It toed the line between pop-punk and hardcore before such a thing became dime-a-dozen, and the group’s heart-on-sleeve emotionalism allowed its songs to hit just a bit harder than the rest. When Lifetime reunited in 2005, it was to play for charity at HellFest, an event that would end up getting canceled and allowing the band to play a string of club shows in place of its one-off festival appearance. Those shows reignited the band’s spark—so much so that the group would return to the studio and offer up its self-titled reunion album.
When it was announced that Lifetime would be releasing a reunion record, there was good reason to be trepidatious. After all, the songs that made up 1995’s Hello Bastards and 1997’s Jersey’s Best Dancers always felt intrinsically linked to a time and place. Vocalist Ari Katz spewed lines about the awkwardness of New Jersey basement shows, something that would feel—if not disingenuous—at least a little bit forced if that was the case. Thankfully, Lifetime found its way back into itself by growing up but refusing to slow down.
“Haircuts And T-Shirts” is not only one of Lifetime’s standouts, but it falls right in line with the songs that made the band’s second and third full-lengths so beloved. All the hallmarks are there, from the octave chord riffing of Dan Yemin and Pete Martin to Katz’s delivery that balanced between slightly mumbled to totally incoherent, but with his lyrics now seeming a little less of the moment. Though Lifetime may not have sparked the same number of imitators the band’s ’90s albums did, it proved age doesn’t always temper enthusiasm—it just tinkers with the presentation.