4 of 4 thought this review was well written
The Lawrence Arms- The Greatest Story Ever Told
There is an apartment complex in the northside of Chicago called The Lawrence Arms
which is known for frantically evicting two very noisy residents in the middle of the night. Silly landlord. Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan had the right idea. When life hands you a sudden kick in the ass, form a hopeless band, then work your way up, and share the spoils.
Lawrence Arms formed in 1999 in Chicago by Bassist Brendan Kelly and guitarist Chris McCaughan. They cycled through a number of drummers before they later picked up Neil Henessy. Kelly and McCaughan split vocals into very strange dual personalities that take control of each piece of music depending on what kind of mood the music surrounds. Kelly will be the uncontrollable static in the faster-paced tracks, and McCaughan leads in ballads and mellow points of composition with more melodic vocals. The Armsí music is a small chunk off pop punk that strikes me with the presence of the same components most others will pull off (hooks, strong catchy pulls), and at times, also consists of a few twists. The Armsí donít stick with a story, and end up presenting their message, wether it be musically, or lyrically, in such a way that it ends up slipping past you with in very misleading fashion. The only way to evidently notice these changes and awkward transitions is to listen, and understand what it is thatís going on.
As said before, Kelly on bass and McCaughan on guitar generally lead the band through albums, and will most likely present their overall performance with a sense of irony that when understood, becomes quite funny and adds to the bandís performance. All these can usually be seen through vocals, as the actual musical portion of the album is a bit more straightforward. Chris McCaughan writes most of the material on the bandís albums, and puts it all together. Although not a very accomplished musician, heíll do his best to hook you in and make the listener stumble upon surprises upon surprises of transitions in tracks that eventually become routine, and explode into impressive high points or the peaks of these songs. He supplies more laid-back and relaxed vocals for tracks revolving around a heavier dose of sentimentality. Fire Flies
and Drunk Mouth Kitchen Smile
show up as fine examples of the Armsí lighter side, and maintain well under the wing of over-decent musicianship and catchy hooks. Chord-after-chord.
Brendan Kelly is in charge of bass and the faster paced songs. No excuses, he is the supplier of the albumís greatest scores, and his harsh vocals, clashing with ironic and humorous backdrops pretty much sums up some the Armsí best tracks. His bass-work helps out the album in very few places, and his instrument is rarely heard (surprise?) over effects that hit you at higher points, and way before the bass comes into play. His over-looked introductory bassline in Alert The Audience!
, also one of the bandís best songs, acts as the timer for some the most up-beat material by the band. His vocals are most favorable at times, and wether heís on his own or heís backing up, itís clear that it keeps things balanced, and not on the same track. On With The Show
and Hesitation Station
proudly point at Kellyís work.
Neil Hennessy sits behind the set that accompanies the disarray coming from Kellyís vocals as well as McCaughans guitar-work. He works with a very limited supply of tricks, and in this case, ways out of a song, but in the end, evidently works as a very consistent catalyst to the rest of the things that are going on. Decent musician, and he shows off some impressive speed on tracks like Alert The Audience!
and The March Of The Elephants
. Completing the trio, Hennessy works well as far as the peculiar transitions on the album occur. A simple fill with scrambling tempos will get the job done, and will speed up as vocals do. You can hear Hennessyís yells and strains in the background of a few recordings by the Armsí that the boys forgot to edit out, or that they simply werenít embarrassed to expose.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
is the bandís best album, and contains some of the most advanced variety Iíve seen on a pop punk album in some time. The band is on Fat Wreck Chords at the moment, and proudly holds itís place as one of the labelís most successful projects. Itís the messages the listener will have to get across to reach the bandís meaning. The album, as well as many other pop punk albums, grows on you plenty. I am still not sure if the band intended this album to be entitled as a concept album, judging by the name, but most likely not. Paying a lot of attention to the album might be bad for you, as it is pretty easy to listen to in most cases. It winds up to sound like very modern pop punk, with hidden twists that might not sound very close to familiar.
Suck on that, Landlord.
The Lawrence Arms
Brendan Kelly- Vocals, Bass
Chris McCaughan- Vocals, Guitar
Neil Hennessy- Drums
Stand Out Tracks
On With The Show
Alert The Audience!
The March Of The Elephants
The Rambliní Boys Of Pleasure