Review Summary: One of the most unabashedly fun records of 2014
In a year brimming with talented bands hitting the peaks of their respective careers, an album like War Psalms
comes as a refreshing change of pace. Not to say this isn’t Morning Glory’s crowning achievement; but where many artists restrain themselves from indulging in their ambitions to focus on creating an opus, Ezra Kire and co hold nothing back right from the get-go. For the majority of 2014, a vocabulary of verbs like “winding” and “weaving” seems far more appropriate to describe an albums journey than a word like “unrelenting”, a descriptor that immediately springs to mind listening to this album. The band pours themselves into their brand of punk/ska, resulting in what may be the most enjoyable album this year has to offer.
There are few bands out there that sound genuinely excited to be making the music they are recording, but right form the opening song, it’s clear that Morning Glory are ecstatic to be here. From the gleeful “whoa-oh”s and gang vocals in ‘Standard Issue’, to the dramatic horns in ‘I Am Machine Gun’ and the clap-driven battle chant ‘War Haka’, Ezra Kire embraces bombast. Every influence is worn proudly on their sleeves, and any flourishes used to add spice to the album are performed to the nth degree. The aggressive stop/start riff in ‘Natas Behind Me’ that alternates between electronic explosions and crunchy guitar, or the foot-stomping romp that is ‘Nationality Anthem’, despite being totally different to the tracks preceding them, don’t sound out of place, because every song shares the same degree of intensity. The bands energy never wanes throughout the albums 38 minute runtime, resulting in an album that rarely surprises, but never lets the listener go as it barrels forward.
Lyrically, this album is fairly standard fare. Every typical punk subject can be found somewhere here; Including political commentary, cries of outrage at the genres stagnancy and anthemic tracks promoting individuality. While re-treading such worn ground can be seen as contrived, it’s easy to feel the honesty seeping through the speakers. Even cheesy lines like “Guess who saved me? It was the enemy!” and “So many songs that are yet unsung, I am not dead! I am not done!” are belted out with such sincerity and conviction that it’s difficult not to smile or punch the air with your fist, and this contributes largely to the enjoyment of War Psalms
Instead of losing steam as the album progresses, the band actually keep picking themselves up and doubling up on intensity, firing even harder on every cylinder. Featuring faster riffs, cheesier lyrical content and more gang vocals as we approach the end, and this steady ramp-up culminates with album highlight ‘Know Your Wrongs’, which features the most diverse musical palette to be found here. Containing liberal use of piano, the best bass performance on the album and one of the more memorable choruses, Morning Glory manage to summarize the best facets of their music in one track and give one final hurrah before the closing ballad.
Every song attempts to outdo the others. Huge choruses, huge hooks, and by constantly raising the bar for themselves they have made an addictive and enjoyable piece of music. While their previous album featured a lot of content blown out across two discs, this short and aggressive format suits the band far better. By eschewing the negative side of punk lyrically and making the biggest songs they can, War Psalms
shoots for the stars and makes it, with energy to spare. In a year seemingly lacking in both punk and simplicity, Morning Glory have succeeded in bringing an unabashedly fun and genuine record to the table that is as accessible as it is catchy.