Well, to really get the album, a little background is in order.
As many fans (and non-fans) already know, on April 30, 2005, Derrick Plourde - original founding member and drummer for Lagwagon's first three records (Duh, Trashed, and Hoss), as well as active drummer for Bad Astronaut and Jaws - committed suicide after a long battle with depression and drug abuse. Although Plourde hadn't been in the 'Wagon for almost ten years, this dealt the band a heavy emotional blow, especially for Joey Cape, Lag's singer and one of Derrick's best friends (as well as bandmate in Bad Astronaut).
Almost immediately, Lagwagon began writing and recording*most of what would become Resolve - the seventh full-length from the highly-influential So-Cal punk mainstays - as both an instant emotional reaction and as homage to Derrick's life. And on those notes, this album succeeds brilliantly. They say music can be inspired by horrific trials as well as love and passion, and this is a product of all three. Tragically beautiful, crushingly emotional, and touching to anyone who's ever experienced loss, Resolve is arguably Lagwagon's finest hour, at least lyrically.
Cape has never been so heartbreakingly-honest as he is here, running the gamut of emotions from hopeful ("The days are new, the nights unwind/You break my world, you change my mind/Run out of love, come down from life/Run out of pain, my life has changed"), crushing sadness ("In that horror scene/One too sad to be/In my mind’s eye I am there/Embracing you so scared/Now you kill me too/You killed me too"), desperation ("Why would you… how would you let go"/I just wanted to see you wake up one day with an expectation/I just wanted to see you wake up one day with a real smile on your face") to grim resignation ("I am the jest malignant cell/Playwright to your hell/I think I knew you well/But I wish I were as smart as you/I could I have changed your mind/Would of, should of, the question ‘til I die"), all with a poetic flair that is too earnest to dismiss, and emotionally, THE heaviest stuff you will listen to for quite some time. Many different times I was moved to tears by this album, especially on songs like "Creepy", "Sad Astronaut", and "Resolve".
Musically, this is the same old Lagwagon that penned classics like "May 16", "Violins", and "Stokin' The Neighbors" - fast, energetic, highly-melodic punk rock featuring Joey Cape's instantly-recognizable lyrics and singing. A bit more stripped-down than 2003's shred/breakdown-heavy Blaze, it actually sounds a lot like 1995's Hoss (fittingly, the last Lag album that Derrick played on), favoring the more rockin', straight-forward tunes and melodies and combining them with the darker musical themes and moods of 1997's Double Plaidinum. The guitar work is phenomenal as always, with Leon and Flip bringing in a few new tricks to the Lag with some formidable, almost A7X-ish harmonized leads on tracks like "The Contortionist", "Infectious", and "Automatic", as well as balls-out shredding like on "Rager" and "Days Of New". Jesse B. reliably lays down solid, catchy grooves on the bass (standouts are the jumpy catchiness of "Virus", and the old-school rock groove of "Automatic"), while Dave Raun cements his rep as one of, if not THE, most in-the-pocket, complete package drummers in rock music today. Listen to the bridge on "Choke" off of 97's Double Plaidinum (or anything off the live album), and you'll know what I'm talking about. He has to be heard to be believed.
Lagwagon's main strength has never been its originality, though - it's their uncanny consistency of putting out great punk records, even if they're still using those same old power chords, with each album retaining a very distinct vibe, style, and mood. In this, Resolve is not much different than their other work in that it is just that - a Lagwagon record.
And I can't think of a better tribute to Derrick. RIP bro.
- Breathtakingly emotional
- Great songwriting and amazing lyrics. Simply Cape's best effort yet for Lagwagon
- Extremely consistent track-to-track
- Simple-to-intricate-to-shred-your-face guitar work
- Incredible drumming. Dave Raun simply owns
- Same ol' Lagwagon, depending on your opinion
- Solos are a bit more sparse, less shredding (but more harmonizing)
- A few more fast tracks would have been cool; the line between Lag and Bad Astronaut is getting a little too blurry these days
STANDOUT TRACKS: The Contortionist, Virus, Heartbreaking Music, Sad Astronaut, Infectious, Days Of New