Review Summary: You keep saying Jersey's not a home.
Music is often described as one of the few things that can really embody the essence of human sorrow. In some way or another, many of the best songs embrace their distress; instead implementing it as an appeal for the resilience of spirit. The Meadowlands
, aptly titled, is the third record from New Jersey natives The Wrens, and it is a sprawling epic of morose imagery, defeated prose and superb guitar rock. Charles Bissel may be having a rough time, but the key heavy, reverb drenched, guitar-pop won’t allow him to hold The Wren’s down. That is not to say that Charles’ performance or lyrics are a determent, he is probably The Wren’s strongest asset. His weighted expulsions of divorce, separation from family, and the lack of a pay check with all that critical praise are near heart-breaking at one moment (“She Sends Kisses”) and positively uplifting the next (“Boys, You Won’t.”) It is sad when you consider how long it took them to develop much of a fan base; you figure a band who could turn divorce into a fist-pumping anthem (“Everyone Choose Sides”) would garner themselves a few more record sales. But as many die-hards will repeat feverously until their final day -- The Wrens can’t catch a break.
That is the essence of their brand of super literal guitar-rock though; the perpetual malcontent, always distraught, always searching, but finding everything you can to love, and embracing the *** out of it. Their raucous live shows, rife with celebration, give no light to the assumption that they’re these awkward, nervous, failures they try to project themselves as on record. But boy do they ever wear the uniform well, and The Meadowlands
is some of the best mopey rock you’ll find -- superbly written and constructed, it is less a documentation of sadness and more a celebration of the endurance it takes to move on, accompanied by oh-so-sweet melodies.