The Lawrence Arms “Metropole”
The Lawrence Arms must now be bordering on being ‘veterans’ of the punk world, given that this is the band’s sixth release. It also sees them returning from an eight year break from making music as a trio. Thankfully, however, they have not lost any of their trademark gritty punk rock spirit. It is acknowledged by the band though that on this album they have continued to develop a more story telling approach to their song writing.
The album certainly opens on a high tempo note with the in your face, modern punk rock sound of “Chilean District”. It’s a short, sharp, track but not without an important hint of melody. That feeling is kept going on “You are Here” but there is an even stronger sense of tune on that song. It’s the clean and clear vocals that really provide such a nice change from the ‘shouty’ approach of so many similar bands. Though “Hickey Avenue” is quick to remind us that the ‘cleaner’ approach isn’t at the expense of any passion or fury!
They’re also not ashamed to add a sense of more commercial appeal to some of the songs though. “Seventeener (17th & 37th)” opens up like some great pop punk song you might expect from someone more like Fall Out Boy. It’s a brilliant, catchy punk rock song which could surely be the band’s first real huge break through single. “Beautiful Things” is another example of the band perfectly balancing the producing of a song which could have wider appeal but without sacrificing their passion.
For those wanting more straight forward punk rock tracks, then they should head over to “Archeron River” and “Never Fade Away”, which are songs which will appeal to fans of bands like The Restorations and The Menzingers. The title track itself, “Metropole”, is a slower and more poignant track that allows the listener time to relax amongst the more abrasive songs that surround it, in particular the next one, “Drunk Tweets”. There is a sense of The Hold Steady to “The YMCA Down The Street From The Clinic” with its storytelling lyrics. The same could be said for “Paradise Shitty” which, as indicated by the title, shows a neat sense of humour as well as being another quality punk song. The album comes to a conclusion with “October Blood” which is the bands final reminder of their ability to combine energy and passion with a deeper and more coherent song writing ability than many of their contemporaries.
Punk rock really is a surprisingly wide genre now and is miles away from its original UK roots. In the U.S. in particular, there has been a wave of bands who have taken their own punk/hardcore influences and added an additional melody to the sound. Importantly, we aren’t talking about the throwaway punk pop that was popular a while back, but instead it’s punk rock music with an ear for a proper tune to underpin the passion. In this regard, The Lawrence Arms have delivered an album which ably demonstrates this sound. This album will certainly hold its own as being one of the best examples of this modern, alternative, punk rock sound.