Friday, April 18, 2014

Album Review: 'Metropole' by The Lawrence Arms

Artist:  The Lawrence Arms (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Last.fm, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

The Lawrence Arms’ sixth studio record Metropole is an ode to that realization that one has entered middle age.  The dueling lead vocals of bassist Brendan Kelly and guitarist Chris McCaughan bite with harsh honesty and clever lyrics that make these songs meaningful without berating or beating the listener on the head to drive home the point.  In other words this record is subtle and straight-forward all at the same time. 

I am relatively new to The Lawrence Arms’ music.  I’d heard of the band for years and knew of their connection to the legendary Chicago ska punk band Slapstick but for whatever reason, I never got around to checking them out.  My first real exposure to The Lawrence Arms came by the way of their side-projects Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds and Sundowner, both of which I have thoroughly enjoyed (check out my reviews of their latest records here and here).  So when I heard that Kelly, McCaughan, and drummer Neil Hennessy were getting back together, I was instantly interested.  I got a copy of Metropole shortly after its release and I’ve been listening to it, fairly constantly, since.  For me, this is one of those records that really hits home with its themes of growing up and growing old, while still feeling the anger and frustration of youth.  On top of that, the songs are catchy punk rock ‘n’ roll anthems the mix the best elements of Jawbreaker, The Goo Goo Dolls (an early influence according to Kelly and one that I can definitely hear), and the historic Chicago punk scene.  This is the kind of record that makes you feel like you are not alone and that is reassuring (at least for this middle aged Gen Xer).  It’s also a record that isn’t afraid to be more than just another punk rock outing, making it a collection of catchy rock ‘n’ roll tunes and anthems that should appeal to a wide audience.  One thing’s for certain, Metropole is easily one of 2014’s best records.   



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