Review Summary: Pure nostalgia
Lagwagon are the tits. It’s crazy to think a punk band that’s been around for 30 years can not only dodge sounding stale, but sound as captivating as these old punks do on Railer
. Perhaps it’s due to a shorter writing process the band undertook this time to capture the good ol' days, but everything about their ninth album sounds fantastic. The bass really pops and there are slick guitar solos mixed in with heavier moments that completely shred. It’s nothing short of pleasing to the ears, thanks in part to the album’s sharp production. Railer
is the ultimate Lagwagon album – perfectly molding their heavy and catchy sensibilities into a package that should please fans both old and new. It’s also the most ‘90s sounding album they’ve done since Let’s Talk About Feelings
, so there’s that.
There was little doubt in my mind Railer
would knock it out of the park. Lead singles “Bubble” and “Surviving California” crammed all of Lagwagon’s best traits into two of the most potent tracks of their career; the first being a skate-punk throwback and the latter leaning more towards the band’s abrasive metal roots. The rest of the album delivers upon the quality promised by these singles, with some unexpected curveballs. “Dangerous Animal” is one of Lagwagon’s most beastly moments – abruptly throwing multiple vocalists in the mix to form a chaotic hardcore track that thrives on its addictive harmonies. The track was written together as a band, and it really shows here with the collective spirit, energy and gang vocals that crash together in a quick two-minutes. It doesn’t take long into the album’s frenetic opener “Stealing Light” to make an impression, either. Kicking Lagwagon’s ninth album off with a reverberating bang, it’s a fine representation of what’s to follow; Joey Cape lays down some of his most sarcastic lyrics on the album over a slick guitar groove that proves irresistible.
From here onward, Railer
never loses its momentum. Without a single ballad in sight, the album’s able to really soar from start to finish the way it was intended. It’s consistent as hell, but some tracks do stand out as more defining to the band’s legacy. I could spend the entirety of this review ranting on about how much I love “Bubble. One of my most-played tracks of the year, there’s a certain charm and warmth to it, but it’s the way the song stirs up such potent imagery of the past that has me gushing about it every chance I get. Let’s be clear: “Bubble” isn’t the heaviest or most musically adventurous number here, but it doesn’t have to be. While tracks like “Dangerous Animal” and “Fan Fiction” completely shred your face off, they just don’t connect with the listener in that same special way. Written from the perspective of the world in 1992, “Bubble” conjures up feelings of a simpler time with its cheerful melodies in a way that is stupid-effective. Cape’s story-writing chops and that undeniable sense of connection raise the track to the next level.
In a year where punk music has been decidedly nostalgic – we’ve seen the return of old favorites Good Riddance, Strung Out and more – Railer
just might be the best of the bunch. It’s an adrenaline ride from start to finish that will have you grinning from ear to ear with a sense of pure joy. They’ve effectively captured their ‘90s glory days, and this album genuinely feels like it could have been released anytime between Trashed
and Let’s Talk About Feelings.
For the thirty minutes you listen to Railer
, you’ll recall a simpler time. It’s the age of Ninja Turtles, Tony Hawk Pro-Skater, and Pogs (if you remember them)! Revisiting the past has never felt so damn good – so natural. It’s a nostalgic ride, but in a way that feels oddly refreshing. With all the social media and technology swallowing us whole, it’s a reminder of the pure simplicity we once experienced as kids – a feeling many spend their whole lives just trying to replicate. Railer
is the throwback of all throwbacks, both lyrically and musically. The driving guitars of “Jini” sound like they belong on Green Day’s Dookie
, and they’re met with an explosive and commanding chorus. This thing was meant to capture a retro vibe and it hits the nail on the head. Hell, just look at that album cover. The grand finale? An upbeat cover of Journey’s “Faithfully”! They make the track very much their own, molding the ‘80s favorite into a blistering punk tune with an optimistic touch. Railer
is an album with the fun factor breaking through the roof, and it’s one of the strongest albums of Lagwagon’s career. Yup, this one’s a keeper.