The Lawrence Arms
Apathy and Exhaustion


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
June 21st, 2006 | 64 replies | 9,358 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


The Lawrence Arms - Apathy and Exhaustion

I've been on something of a pop punk binge recently. After having a religious experience listening to No Use for a Name's Live in a Dive CD during a car ride to a carnival, I have been kicking out the Fat Wreck and Epitaph jams non-stop. I decided to review All's Mass Nerder and now I'm moving onto another band that was a big part of the music that dominated my sophomore year of high school: The Lawrence Arms. See, back then I could go on and on about what I liked but not necessarily explain why I liked it. And now that I'm armed with a whole lot of ear training and nostalgia I'm going to revisit some crucial albums.

I came across The Lawrence Arms' Apathy and Exhaustion from a pop-up e-card on www.punkhardcore.com back in the day. I only heard 30 seconds of "I'll Take What's in the Box, Monty," but after that I knew I had to buy the CD. This band is just immediately catchy, which has something to do with a special, fun x-factor the band has, but mostly comes from a having a certain formula to their songs. The instruments are a step above those of most other pop punk bands (but below No Use for a Name's and Lagwagon's), and they write directly inbetween the gruff, Chicago-style punk they were geographically influenced by, and the Fat Wreck melodic style, which coincides with their signing to Fat Wreck after their first LP. Also, all of their songs benefit from two contrasting vocalists, one a gruff, sloppy punk singer, and the other a youthful, earnest, almost poppy, clean singer. To make their case even stronger, nearly all of their lyrics linger on subject of either drunken antics, or lost love, which, when linked with the vocal presentation, is a pretty devastating combination. And though it seems trite as I write out this formulaic approach to songwriting, the result actually sounds new and refreshing in execution. I feel that this band just writes massively likeable songs, using a generally catchy rubric. Even those of you who have tired of melodic punk hooks may find something new in this CD.

The CD as a whole is also fairly well paced. The gruff and clean singing is alternated roughly every song, giving each style a break from one another to refresh the listener, and making every turn feel crisp and new. Also, another reason for this good pacing is that the music is mostly fast-paced but there are always moments in the songs where the drums break into half-time and the guitars pull out to leave the singer ballading near a cappella. These moments not only roll over the energy of the album, but they also are heartwrenchingly catchy with lyrics like, "I'm gonna remember that you are my friend. / And fall asleep on the floor" (from "Boatless Booze Cruise Volume 1") that tap into a fraternizing, bacchanalian language, and "Is there a gesture I could use / to clearly express / I'm at an utter loss for words" (from "Brick Wall Views") that tap into a wistful, love-beaten language, both of which may be cliché, but are more importantly painfully honest and touching when enjoyed at the denouement of their respective songs. That's another great part of this album; there always seems to be a catchy coda or denouement at the end of their songs that cap off each lyric, like a good toast or moral-of-the-story. They usually include a reprise of a certain lyrical idea, and an instrumental backdrop that raises the tension and then spills it all over the place in an emotive way. It's such a killer (and yes, trite) technique that slays me every time I heard it.

Okay, so I'll admit that this band uses tons of corny formulaic devices to write their songs, but the feeling is there and The Lawrence Arms have a penchant for blotting out the typical reaction I get from hearing generic hooks. It's just too catchy and fun to deny for being hackneyed from a songwriting perspective.

Recommended Tracks (gruff vocals): I'll Take What's in the Box Monty, Navigating the Windward Passage, 3am QVC Shopping Spree Hangover
Recommended Tracks (clean vocals): Brick Walls Views, Your Gravest Words, Right As Rain part 2



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
June 21st 2006



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have The Greatest Story Ever Told and I'm quite satsified with it.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 21st 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked this a lot better. I was not too happy with Oh! Calcutta! It was too meat and potatoes rocknroll for me. I loved the melodic mixed with the rock. That combination was lethal.

Zebra
Moderator
June 21st 2006



2647 Comments


I've never really been able to get into these guys. I still like listening to NOFX and even the Alkaline Trio but the Lawrence Arms just don't do it for me. Good review.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 22nd 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have you checked out this particular CD? I feel that this is the one with that special oomph.

kno_kontrol
June 26th 2006



448 Comments


This album is better than TGSET imo, but below Oh! Calcutta!. that one is a masterpiece, and TGSET is still pretty goddamn good in its own right.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 26th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow. Oh! Calcutta is really not that good at all.

STFDood84
July 5th 2006



179 Comments


Great album, I got this right after I heard "Presenting The Dancing Machine" off of Fat Music Volume 6 a few years ago. The dynamic between Chris and Brendan is definitely the draw for the band, and I'm also a fan of Chris's chord voicings b/c they're not all straight power-chords like 95% of pop-punk. It's a quality album but I liked TGSET more, and Cocktails & Dreams is better than most of their other albums anyways (Necrotism: Decanting The Insalubrius = best Larry Arms song ever).

Oh and BTW, they released TWO albums before this one: Ghost Reveries and A Guided Tour Of Chicago.

Two-Headed Boy
February 27th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^Ghost Stories*

DFelon204409
Emeritus
February 27th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

totly. i respect the bump though. i still love this album.

Intransit
February 27th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yep. This album has grown on me alot recently. Now tied with O!C!.

Two-Headed Boy
March 15th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm amazoning this sucka.

Intransit
March 25th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Okay so like, I change my mind all the time when it comes to the Lawrence Arms, but I think I finally have it pinned.

1. Oh Calcutta
2. The Greatest Story Ever Told
3. Apathy
4. Cocktails
5. Ghost Stories
6. Guided Tour

Two-Headed Boy
March 25th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wish I was as fruitful in the Lawrence Arms as you.

smokersdieyounger
March 26th 2007



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This review convinced me to buy this record a while ago, thanks

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 26th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome dude. Thank you!

Two-Headed Boy
March 28th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In celebration of my gazillionth post in this review, I'm actually going to rate it.

Intransit
May 31st 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Brickwall Views is one of the single greatest songs ever tbh.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 1st 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

123456....

CushMG15
August 5th 2008



1802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally got ahold of this, and so far it's pretty awesome. Navigating the Windward Passage is wicked.

AndyRictor2000
August 22nd 2008



146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh calcutta! is what got me intersted in this band and turned me on to all of their other albums and side-projects.



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