Level 2.0 - Resurgence
Quite simply, Level 2.0 has reached a new level.
Coated in melancholy and nostalgia with punctuated bursts of light, Resurgence is an exploration, an advancement, ultimately, an improvement of Level 2.0’s sound. The album covers some dark and sad territory, but there is a theme of optimism and hope through all of it. Within Resurgence there is no certainty of happiness, but there is at least the possibility thereof.
An examination of the lyrics suggests that something major, a romantic relationship perhaps, fell apart. Mike Hoffman—the sole member of Level 2.0—reflects on and mourns the loss, but decides to move forward as best he can.
Resurgence represents a renewal, a surging forward of Level 2.0 artistically. Opener 'Off the Radar' immediately demonstrates the differences. It doesn’t have a rapid fire tempo, a stomping beat, or distorted and aggressive vocals. Instead it moves at a medium tempo, with a constant beat, and with vocals that, while still processed, come out cleaner and better. 'Heartbeat' almost sounds happy until you realize it’s about someone waiting for a call that never comes. Nonetheless, Hoffman whose faith is “fading” declares that “for you his heart still beats.” 'Savior' starts slow but builds big and finishes strong. 'Last December' slows down in a fragile and tender exploration of being caught between “an echo inside my heart” and the realization that “it’s time to let go.” The instrumental 'Idyll' cleanses the palate before the next track.
'Moonlit' is the penultimate track of the album, a crystallization of everything Level 2.0 is about. It’s not just the best track on the album, it’s the best track Level 2.0 has ever created (if you’re making a list, 'Invincible' from Armageddon is the second-best Level 2.0 track). 'Moonlit' is a heartfelt plea to “come back to me for one last time / I’ll promise you, I’ll make things right.” The lyrics express such an honest, emotionally open, elemental thought that we’ve all had. It’s worth tracking down the single for 'Moonlit.' We can only hope that Level 2.0 makes a future album in which every track is this powerful. Any track from Resurgence that follows 'Moonlit' will seem inferior. Such is the case with 'Perfect World.' It’s a solid song, but it isn’t 'Moonlit'. Burning off some of the doom and gloom, 'Resurgence' starts gently and breaks into a full-out dance track, an anthem in which Hoffman tells the listener that “you will resurge beyond mountains so tall.”
'Discovery,' the final track, returns to the introspection so prevalent in Resurgence. Hoffman wonders whether it was “worth the hurt that I got over / was it worth the time I won’t get back.” Nobody can answer those questions, but at least he and we got this album out of it. By the end, Hoffman seems to have at least accepted what has happened. As he sings, “we all wear different scars / Yet the beauty’s in the change. It’s part of who we are.” A scar can be an ugly thing, a record of the devastation done. But scars are also beautiful, proof that the wound has closed, the healing has begun, and that maybe one day the pain will pass.Jul 27 2017
I am Professor of English at Beacon College. I still buy compact discs.
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