Review Summary: And it makes no difference now/as I help lift your bags out/that I'm lost and out of rope
For what it’s worth, change can be a very difficult phenomenon to embrace within music. A particular group’s “fresh direction” or “maturation” is not always a popular among the fans; a catch-22 that yields negative results more often than it does positive. In 2003, The Wrens were thrown into this very scenario, seven years removed from their latest record Seacaucus
. As if the band’s creational gap wasn’t gaping enough, Meadowlands
is without a doubt the antithesis of Seacaucus’
youthful jubilance. After nearly a decade, The Wrens were transformed from broken-hearted, yet optimistic young adults to defeated shadows of their former selves; beleaguered by mortgage payments, marriage struggles, and the consequences of past decisions. You know, real problems
is a raw emotional journey that accentuates the aforementioned statement to the fullest extent; a maturation that comes to a realization of reality and inability to do anything about it.
The Wrens’ third release Meadowlands
, commences a slow-burning record which is constantly gaining momentum; peaking at moments of false exuberance and torn back down to earth. This energy is most notably generated by the searing guitar work of Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, which brings liveliness to rockers such as “Faster Gun” and “Per Second Second.” Bissell is quick to define the Meadowlands
’ poignant nature with his lo-fi, sometimes abrasive vocals as well, serving as a disguise for the tormented lyrics which lie within. The aptly titled “Hopeless” is a middle-finger to an ex-lover, serving as a melting pot of resentment and desperation with lines such as “Go thank yourself for nothing”
and “Hopeless this will turn out better.”
Bissell’s one-liners seem to provide the guitar work with even more potency, which is undeniably apparent in climaxing rocker “Hopeless” and the nostalgic “The Boy is Exhausted.” His most formidable performance however, lies within the guilt-drenched and dejected “13 Months in Six Minutes.” The haunting and stripped-down temperament of the piece, only furthered by Bissell’s whispered vocals. “13 Months in Six Minutes” is the straw that breaks the camel’s back; a complete abandonment of blame and optimism.
It was clear with Meadowlands
that The Wrens were going for something entirely different from Seacaucus
, and everything from the melancholy song titles to the evocative album art suggests this alteration. What the album cover and song titles do not convey however, is how perfectly the themes of Meadowlands
are pulled off, whether this is demonstrated through Bissell’s agonized lyricism or the reverb-laden guitars. The Wrens’ third release takes us to a place far-removed from the carefree demeanor of youth and even the not-so significant adolescent years; a period at which life becomes a bitter pill to swallow and little can be done to rectify the situation.