The Lawrence Arms – ‘Metropole’

By Samarth Kanal

Eight years is a long time to wait for something but almost a decade since their last album, The Lawrence Arms have released their new album, ‘Metropole.’ The Chicago punk mainstay’s sixth album has a lot to live up to, particularly as ‘Oh! Calcutta’ was such a strong release, but this probably hasn’t phased the trio. ‘Metropole’ lives up to the hype surrounding it, with The Lawrence Arms building on past releases and then some.

‘Chilean District’ starts off the album, and the track itself begins with a recording of a street musician’s crowd applauding, lending an extra sense of occasion and anticipation. It’s a really great way to start off the record and it’s more than just a novelty – a few of the songs start off this way and the samples of street musicians performing really do add something. ‘Chilean District’ itself is short and punchy; it’s a solid start which fits such an important release.

The title of the album suggests that The Lawrence Arms tried to capture the solitude and disorientating atmosphere of big cities, and tracks such as ‘Paradise Shitty’ and ‘You Are Here’ do this effectively. ‘You Are Here’ notably contains the lyrics, “outside the window a train is a friend just zipping by / I catch you when I catch you man / maybe we can go for a ride” – city living can sometimes be a lonely business and the band haven’t shied away from that. ‘Beautiful Things’ takes the energy that the band are well known for and turns it into something quite tragic, as well as one of the stand-out tracks of the album.

The structure and production of ‘Metropole’ are worth noting as well, with the songs avoiding any chance of a mid-album slump. Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan’s vocals stand out really well and are used in equal amounts throughout. The title track reaches a brilliant climax and shows that The Lawrence Arms have always been capable of thoughtful, powerful punk rock, and ‘October Blood’ ends the album with yet another impressive song. The lyric, “I was born and I died / and just a moment went by” provides a poignant closing line, and this time it’s a shiver-inducing recording of a street musician that closes the album.

‘Metropole’ is a special record, but it takes time to appreciate the emotions that went into making it. While there have been music videos and singles released prior to this, it must have been hard to choose just a couple, and everybody will have their own highlights to take away from what will surely be one of 2014’s strongest releases. Eight years is a long time to wait for an album but ‘Metropole’ should definitely satisfy even the most impatient listener.


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