Review Summary: Oh! Calcutta! represents the Chicago three piece at their best; There's nowhere to go but down from here folks
After the pop-punk masterpiece that was The Greatest Story Ever Told
came out, every Larry Arms fan across the world wondered where would the band go next? Would they revert back to their more aggressive straight forward punk style? Or continue building on the extremely melodic and catchy sound of Greatest Story?
Well they ended doing a bit of both, pleasing fans from both sides of the spectrum when crafting Oh! Calcutta!
which is easily the band's most popular and beloved album.
The biggest change the band made when writing Oh! Calcutta!
was to integrate the vocals of both singers into the tracks, instead of each singer sticking to their own songs like on previous records. The result of this experiment is a much fuller and enjoyable sound, with Chris and Brendan's vocals interplaying with each other beautifully. The vocals on this record range from taking turns on lead, singing together at the same time, and call and response type stuff akin to Paul's Boutique.
The dual vocal attack on Oh! Calcutta!
is an enriching experience and makes the record stand out from the band's other releases.
From the thunderous opening of "The Devil's Takin' Names," it's clear that Oh! Calcutta!
has a considerably harder edge than the group's last record The Greatest Story Ever Told.
What makes Oh! Calcutta!
so special is its ability to retain the catchy nature of their last record while also having a heavier and more raw sound. Songs like "Cut It Up" and "Beyond The Embarrassing Style" are ferocious, yet catchy punk rock tunes that burn quickly on a short fuse in under two and a half minutes. The Lawrence Arms are certainly a band that don't mess around, with barely any of the 13 tracks surpassing the three minute mark. This quality is what makes The Lawrence Arms so great: their ability to say so much in such a short span.
currently stands as The Lawrence Arms' last released studio album and it's easy to see why; it's a hard act to follow. The Chicago three piece took pretty much every element that made them great over their last four albums and blended them together with a few new ingredients resulting in the band's melodic punk magnum opus. It's tough to say where the band is heading after a six year span with only an EP to show. but whatever they do, as long as it's anything like Oh! Calcutta!
it will be magnificent.