Review Summary: The ramblin' boys of pleasure stumble home at a pathetic pace.
About three and a half years ago The Lawrence Arms put out an EP entitled Buttsweat and Tears.
This release showcased a more mature, but still very punk rock The Lawrence Arms, a band that was not afraid to slow things down, sing in a calmer and lower register, and complicate their songwriting a bit. I viewed this EP at the time as a sampler for what was to come with the band's forthcoming sixth studio album Metropole.
Unfortunately The Lawrence Arms instead made a lifeless, boring, and worst of all, forgettable album that fails to utilize any of the newfound qualities the band had developed just a few years ago with Buttsweat and Tears.
One of the biggest strengths The Lawrence Arms have employed over the years has been the band's ability to create a flowing and cohesive album despite having two songwriters with differing styles and voices. Metropole
vehemently bucks this trend as it feels more like a Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
type situation where b-sides from Chris McCaughan and Brendan Kelly's solo projects were repurposed into a Lawrence Arms record, likely because they felt obligated to put out a new album after an eight year absence. The second track "You Are Here" sounds like it could have been written as an acoustic Sundowner track, but it at least sort of fits in as a Lawrence Arms song in its current form. This is not the case with "The YMCA Down The Street From The Clinic" which doesn't even try to disguise itself as anything other than a Brendan Kelly solo track, featuring his signature lyric and vocal style that he employs almost exclusively in his solo project. Metropole's
lifeless and forgettable tracks far outweigh its sparse standout tracks, and the lack of voice or concept prevents any sort of engagement with the songs or the album as a whole.
really starts to lose me around the last third of the record, and I can recall on several occasions spacing out towards the end, almost to a point of falling asleep. The record ends with a whimper and a few seconds of white noise, and then the opener to Oh! Calcutta! starts playing on my itunes and I'm instantly elated and reminded what a proper Lawrence Arms album sounds like. Comparisons aren't really fair, but listening to one of the band's strongest efforts right after listening to Metropole
just reinforces my belief that The Lawrence Arms simply don't have it
any more. Metropole
doesn't have the bite of previous records, nor does it have the attitude, the fluidity, the clear voice, and most importantly the catchiness of previous records. It's hard to make a relevant album after a five-plus year absence, I understand that, but A Wilhelm Scream proved how very possible that is just a few months ago with their comeback album Partycrasher.
It saddens me to say it, but Metropole
is The Lawrence Arms weakest album to date, and is average at best considering the quality of records similar bands have been putting out recently.