Review Summary: "Fuck you / You're cool / Fuck you too"
If you’ve ever needed a reason to listen to The Lawrence Arms, here’s a good one: they will kick your ass. I’m not talking about the sort of big talk, small fight nonsense, where the guy whose mother you claim to have slept with is standing over you looking mean after two punches. I’m talking about the kind of beating that you’ll write novels about in awe, through an interpreter, using a painstakingly devised tongue-click alphabet (one click is ‘A’, two clicks is ‘B’...) while you lie in your hospital bed trying to remember where exactly things went wrong. Kick my
ass?, I hear you scoff! I don’t blame you. I would be skeptical too. But unless you want to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, weary of Neil Hennessy ready to kneecap you with a baseball bat, I’d listen up.
Ok, no, wait, no, I’m sorry.
The Lawrence Arms won’t actually
kick your ass. I misled you. You’d have to forgive me though because anyone familiar with this bands brand of ballsy pop punk wouldn’t have bat an eyelid at the statement, so allow me to revise: The Lawrence Arms will soundtrack you getting your ass kicked. Pay close to attention to the phrasing of that statement because they certainly don’t want anything to do with you kicking somebody elses
ass (like that ever happens). No, the Lawrence Arms are all about getting thrown out for being too drunk at a wedding, about being sick in a parking lot, about “dreaming of palm trees” and waking up “to dirty city streets”, and about glorifying just about every other sordid moment in life like it’s the catalyst to a revitalization or the raucous sound of a welcoming party at rock bottom.
It’s been three years since we last heard from the band as a collective, though we’ve been given plenty to talk about in the meantime. With side projects including pop punk supergroup The Falcon and singer-songwriter effort Sundowner under their belts, it’s reassuring to know that The Lawrence Arms haven’t missed a step. Buttsweat and Tears is 14 minutes more of those loud, reckless, and unapologetic up-tempo numbers that propelled Oh! Calcutta! an inch wide of being a modern punk masterpiece. They’re right on form lyrically too, noticeably adapting an insightful leaning towards life (“What will it say on my snow-covered grave? /"He had it all, he let it all just slip away." “) while still slipping in the sorts of one-liners that make them so god damn fun to sing along to (“Pass these “*** you”s around”). The hectic vocal trade-offs between Brendan and Chris are still as prevalent as ever and make for melodies that match up to anything the band has ever done, exemplifying just how precisely they’ve mastered a sound that is so uniquely theirs.
Buttsweat and Tears is essentially everything incredible about Oh! Calcutta! condensed into a five-track summary of what’s just past and a teaser of what’s to come. When they can sound this good, this consistently, I don’t think anyone will blame you for looking forward to the next LP from the most reliable drunkards around.