Music I Love: Dead Letters, by The Rasmus

Album: Dead Letters
Artist: The Rasmus
Year: 2003

Track Listing:

  1. In the Shadows
  2. Guilty
  3. First Day of My Life
  4. Still Standing
  5. In My Life
  6. Time to Burn
  7. Not Like the Other Girls
  8. The One I Love
  9. Back in the Picture
  10. Funeral Song

I discovered The Rasmus relatively late in life, having already lived through the angst of my teens and matured from adolescent depression into the full-blown mental illness of bipolar disorder, and I remember thinking to myself, damn – I wish I’d known about them when I was fifteen.

Despite getting their start in the mid-nineties, the Finnish rock group came to worldwide attention in 2003 with the release of their fifth album, Dead Letters. From a pop-rock beginning, Dead Letters takes a turn firmly into goth-rock territory, with dark and miserable lyrics reminiscent of their home-grown contemporaries, HIM.

Yet unlike HIM, whose music tends to drip melancholy and sadness, The Rasmus maintain a dark yet upbeat bounce throughout their work, whether on the syncopated beats of In the Shadows, the epic chorus of Guilty, or the metal-tinged riffs of First Day of My Life.

Above their previous – and some of their later – albums, though, the overall flow of Dead Letters is impeccable, with mid- to fast-paced songs taking over the first side, while the more mellow back half – with ballads like Not Like the Other Girls – leads into the raucous Back in the Picture, before petering out dramatically with Funeral Song.

This is an album that would have made a huge difference to me in my teen years, and even since then I’ve played it over a hundred times with relish, because its anthemic goth-pop tracks are everything I wanted to hear but didn’t know existed.

The Rasmus have continued to release excellent albums, from their excellent follow-up, Hide From the Sun to their U2-inspired eponymous release in 2012, but Dead Letters remains their defining album to this day, and will live on for me as an epitome of fun goth rock.