The Lawrence Arms

Apathy And Exhaustion

Written by: PP on 23/12/2009 07:07:41

The Lawrence Arms have been a force to be reckoned with in the Midwestern punk scene ever since the release of their finest album to date, "Apathy And Exhaustion", an album full of drunken punk rock tunes with melodies that made the existence and popularity of bands like Banner Pilot and, in part, Dillinger Four, possible years later. If there's one album I'd associate with the Midwestern / Chicago punk scene, it'd definitely be "Apathy And Exhaustion", and here's why.

First off, you've got "Navigating The Windward Passage", potentially the most known Lawrence Arms song thanks to its inclusion on one of those Fat Music compilations, a driving melodic punk track thriving on its unpolished, raw melody and the cigarette-smoked voice of Brendan Kelly that fills the track with just the right level of aggression needed for this type of music. It is complemented by medium tempo, but unforgettable songs like "Porno And Snuff" with its great chorus, and alternating vocal lines of "The First Eviction Notice", one of the finest tracks in the history of the genre.

If raw-but-melodic (punk) rock isn't quite up your alley and you're into softer stuff instead, then you'll probably fall in love with Chris McCaughan's songs like "Your Gravest Words", a heartfelt song about falling in love with a girl you can't have: "I am a satellite never getting signals right / you are a constellation / I can barely make you out tonight / the city lights are burning too bright". You could argue that he shares much in common with Mark from Blink 182 in some of these tracks. Anyway, the reason I've thrown punk in brackets is because many of the tracks on the record actually qualify for the generic umbrella term rock instead, which isn't such a bad thing, because it gives the album the variety needed to make it a classic.

Out of all The Lawrence Arms albums, "Apathy And Exhaustion" is the one with the best choruses and the best dynamic interplays between Chris & Bren's two entirely different vocal styles. Large parts of the disc should remind you of a less intense Alkaline Trio, in that the songs are similarly dark lyrically but relatively cheerful in terms of tone. There's also the dual vocalist approach and an overall similar sound, but that's okay, because there are very few bands able to successfully do what Alkaline Trio are doing. In short, "Apathy And Exhaustion" is another one of those genre-defining albums you shouldn't miss out on.

Download: Your Gravest Words, Navigating The Windward Passage, The First Eviction Notice
For the fans of: Banner Pilot, Alkaline Trio, Dillinger Four, American Steel
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Release date 12.02.2002
Fat Wreck Chords

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