Review Summary: Your forgiveness is a fading fiction
When I started reviewing Alkaline Trio/The Lawrence Arms' discography I knew I would get stuck on this one. The Greatest Story Ever Told
is one of my favorite albums ever and I knew convincing the world of its greatness would be a challenge. After about a month of trying to write a regular review for this, I realized how fruitless that endeavor was. How many more times could I say "I like The Lawrence Arms, they make good punk records"" There was no way I'd be able to justify a classic rating just by describing the music. Justifying a classic rating for an album that isn't already considered a classic is almost impossible. I can't fall back on discussing the legacy or influence of this record, because it doesn't really have a legacy or influence. I'm left with only my interpretation, which is subjective anyway, it's all bullshit. Nothing I could say could even come close to accurately describing this record as its music which has to be heard to truly be understood. Reviewing albums is like trying to describe what a strawberry tastes like, it's fucking impossible. So why even write this" Why does anyone write anything" We write because we have to. Whether it's album reviews, screenplays, or music, we write because we have it in our DNA, which is exactly why The Lawrence Arms write the music they write.
Everything about the album just makes sense to me. From the derivative power chords, to the blatantly auto-tuned vocals, to the contrived and pretentious lyrics, it all just comes together to make something far exceeding it's parts. It's our imperfections that make us perfect, and it's the same way with The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Every single song connects with me on a certain level, I couldn't imagine this record having any more tracks, or any fewer tracks, it's just perfect.
I'm not going to pretend I know what the lyrics are about, and if you asked me to explain what they mean I wouldn't be able to. They simply connect to me on an emotional level that is impossible to describe and shouldn't have to be. We as humans know what we feel and we shouldn't have to put those feelings into words because it would just be a cheap imitation anyway. Just like posting any of the lyrics would be pointless because they live in the context of the music. There's just something about the prose and word choice that ring true to me. I already know what the song is about on an emotional level without being able to explain it or even decipher it from the words. This is the ultimate goal of lyrics I suppose, and the storytelling and poetic nature of the lyrics work perfectly in the context of the beautiful mess that is the music.
Writing Five reviews is bullshit. I realized this when I wrote a previous one, all I did was describe the music like any other review and it felt so hollow, so lifeless. I think others realize this too, as I've seen people with a 5 rating, review an album as a 4.5 because they know if the review was listed as "classic" it would be bullshit. The only thing you can do is write about your connection to the album. I can project myself into the lyrics, use the lyrics and the music to make sense of any of the emotional moments in my life, which is what I think a lot of us do. We use music to make sense of ourselves and our surroundings, and The Greatest Story Ever Told
is the greatest story I use to achieve this. Every single note makes sense, every single lyric fits in on the grander scale. The album shifts between tender ballad, to chaotic punk song every other track, creating a bi-polar adventure that really shouldn't work, but does. The two songwriting styles of the band have always complimented each other well, but The Greatest Story Ever Told
is on a completely different level. I could use all the big words, semi-colons, and dashes I want, but it won't justify my rating. I'll just leave you with this: This album is the greatest story ever told.