Chicago punk rock trio, The Lawrence Arms, are set to release their sixth studio album Metropole at the end of this month, having just signed to Epitaph Records. The most striking thing about this album is the way it flickers in and out of punk/pop punk/ emo/ rock, without ever really combining them properly.

The first two tracks ‘Chilean District’ and ‘You Are Here’ go well together, and at this point we’re almost sold that this album’s going to be good. By track three, you can no longer ignore the resemblance between singer Chris McCaughan’s vocals and those of Justin Furstenfeld from Blue October. Only McCaughan’s are frequently wispy and thin in comparison. It’s certainly a strange contrast to bassist Brendan Kelly’s more classic emo/ pop punk whine. Fourth song, ‘Seventeener (17th & 37th)’ is instrumentally pop punk, the bass rhythm synonymous with most early Blink 182. And the main guitar riff in ‘Beautiful Things’ could easily have been lifted from the intro of Blink 182’s ‘Dysentery Gary’. The album’s title track has a distinctly lowered tempo compared with all of the other tracks on the album. The song kicks in properly after about a minute, but it’s still clearly the token slow track. It works though. And it makes way for the next track to have a rather punchy and triumphant start.

Whilst nothing so far has been spectacularly outstanding, the latter half of this album is pure album tracks, it’s underwhelming and uninspiring. It is definitely possible to sit and pick out minuscule quirks that each track has; but if you have to look for what makes a track exciting or good, then it really, really isn’t.

No part of Metropole massively stands out and it loses what little gusto it has by about four songs in. It’s perfectly listenable, just not exciting. Honestly this album should be background music for beer-pong and nothing more.

Callum Cornwell

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