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Album Review: The Lawrence Arms – Metropole

Album Review: The Lawrence Arms – Metropole

Artist: The Lawrence Arms

Album: Metropole

Tracks: 12 (Deluxe features News From Yalta EP)

Release Date: 28th January 2014

Label: Epitaph

It’s been 8 long years since The Lawrence Arms released their last album Oh! Calcutta! and the news that band would be releasing a new album this January could not have been better received by fans of the band.

Metropole is the title of the latest offering, which is said to have been named after a hotel that the bassist and vocalist Brendan Kelly stayed in whilst he was in Italy writing the album. Interestingly the term ‘metropole’ is also used to refer to an empire’s ‘mother city’. Perhaps this gives a valid argument as to why this album is one of the band’s best to date.

Metropole Deluxe Edition

Metropole Deluxe Edition

In November of last year, the band released their first single You Are Here. The Lawrence Arms are an outfit famous for releasing no two albums that sound alike, from A Guided Tour of Chicago to Cocktails and Dreams you can always expect to hear a vastly differing album an unpredictable property shared with bands such as The Replacements which makes them lovable and yet dangerous to follow.

The single was an interesting one to hear, with tidy production and vocal sections packed with riffs and guitars with melodies rather than purely thrashy power chords. There are even moment in the chorus that sound as though Mark Hoppus could have written the song for Blink-182.


Metropole Standard Edition

The Lawrence Arms have always been undeniably punk but they have had moments in their discography, notably the Buttsweat and Tears EP, where they delve into a sound with more clarity and rock rhythms rather than the tedious approach to punk of; play as many power chords as you can in two minutes and don’t worry about how it sounds because it’s punk. This is when the Lawrence Arms are at their best, when you can tell that they’ve considered every note and have practiced it time after time.

The YMCA Down the Street From the Clinic is another one of those songs on the album that sound soulful as well as punk, with Chris McCaughan offering licks similar to those that Alex Rosamilia from The Gaslight Anthem might write, melodic and melancholic and yet irrevocably rock and roll. The same can be said of the record’s eponymous track Metropole, sounding as though it could have been a sped-up version of Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts from The Gaslight Anthem’s Senor and the Queen EP. Lyrically, Brendan Kelly is at his husky tricks again, telling tales of, well… The YMCA clinic down the street from the clinic as well as utilizing a Springsteen-esque truth to recount tales of every day life.

For those of you that are reading this and are worrying that The Lawrence Arms are losing their rawness that you heard on albums such as The Greatest Story Ever Told then tracks such as Acheron River are examples that not only show their punk side but shove it down your throat when you’re not looking. The track deceivingly begins with the distant sound of a horn/trumpet playing as if heard down the back streets of 1920′s Chicago whilst dodging police officers during the prohibition and then the song bursts into the heart-pounding drum beat that Neil Hennessy is so apt at creating.

If you bought the Deluxe Edition of Metropole then you would have also received the News From Yalta EP which is also available from the band as a separate release, following similar tactics to Alkaline Trio when they released Broken Wing EP along with their latest record My Shame is True. The EP contains three tracks: These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me, Bonfire Park and The Profiteers.

These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me, which sounds as though it could be a title for a Hunter S. Thompson book, is a flashback to the traditional punk sound, perhaps as some saving grace should you have found the Metropole not intense enough. It has that palm-muted guitar and driving bass-line much like Like a Record Player from the band’s previous record.

Bonfire Park, is the second track from the News from Yalta EP, which makes it the 14th track on the album. Much like These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me it has a ‘filler’ feel to it. There’s nothing to the song which stands out as particularly enthralling especially when you consider that one would have just gone through the album first to get there. It’s just another of those forgettable songs. Luckily, it’s lost in a sea of awesomeness, so it is forgivable. This time.

The last song of the album/EP is The Profiteers is a fine example of Kelly’s interesting lyrical choice to express frank opinion. “It’s a crazy f–king world.” and “If it smells like s–t, and looks like s–t”. But if we’re honest, that’s one of the things we love about The Lawrence Arms, as well as their fantastically long titles.

All in all, this album is one of the best that the band have ever released, and possibly one of the best albums I’ve heard in the past couple of months. I could not recommend this album more keenly.

If you like anything you have read about the Lawrence Arms, leave us a comment. If you would like to know more about the band, explore these links below:

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