Two Thirty Eight’s Regulate the Chemicals debut release on Tooth and Nail Records was a defining moment for a great rock
band. After 6 years of existence, the band was finally discovering what it was to write music as they felt it, rather than just regurgitating
their immediate influences. A maturing challenge few bands have the privilege of mounting as the life expectancy of a
new independent band rarely lasts longer than the fads that come and go. Though RTC is a re-release, the new Tooth and Nail
version includes the new songs “Spokes,” and “Les Wirth.” The release as a whole is truly mature songwriting. The themes
throughout tell sober tales of personal and social failings, the strange sterile disconnected comfort Americans find in over-medication
and songs of heartbreak. The writing is adult enough to realize that everybody’s got a story and contains a humble realization
that embodies the spirit of the prodigal son’s ungrateful brother.
Two Thirty Eight’s new release You Should Be Living, much like Regulate The Chemicals, is a welcomed addition to any rock
fans collection especially for those who tire easily of guitar wankery and the self-referential quality that musical pop culture has
a habit of portraying. While Two Thirty Eight’s previous releases are decidedly rock oriented in their delivery, You Should Be
Living takes a bit of a turn to delve into a slightly more laid back approach. By recalling the complex jazz-like chord structures
of a band like Karate, the fluidity of The Sea and Cake a similar quirky melody akin to Built to Spill coupled with the energy of
their previous releases, Two Thirty Eight have truly found a sound for themselves. For the discerning listener willing to be
stretched, this is thinking mans rock and thankfully the delivery is devoid of self-importance. The lyrical themes take into account
a common cultural landscape so that you get the impression that singer and guitar player Chris Staples is just an ordinary guy
thinking about the state of the world.
If Regulate the Chemicals as a whole encapsulates the youthfully idealistic spirit of ‘calling it like it is,’ then You Should Be Living
takes a mature step back. Staples surveys the greater scheme of things and in the process comes across a profound realization.
Maybe it’s us - middle class America, and even more candidly himself - and not just the clearly defined bad guys portrayed
as the corporate evils of modern institutions on the evening news who have shaped the world as we know it. After all, it’s individuals
who make up the fabric of society. Handled by anyone else and these themes would come across as stark realism but
Staples songwriting style has a keen eye for observational detail. The outcome on You Should Be Living is an honest, heartfelt
and hopeful assessment of a generation gorging themselves on the spiritual anesthetic of junk culture.
It seems plain that the order of the day would be for new talent to create rock music that is true to a simple formula. One that
is successful regardless of genre. To create music that is personal without being whiny and intellectually challenging without
coming off as bookish. The bands that legitimately pull off such a feat are few and far between and remain-for the faithful music
lovers fortunate enough to find such treasures-the true innovators. Pensacola Florida’s Two Thirty Eight are just the band
you’ve been hoping for.