Enthusiastic album release excites fans
The Lawrence Arms spent their most recent recording sessions in the West Texas desert. The trio, from Chicago originally, consists of bassist and vocalist Brendan Kelly, guitarist and vocalist Chris McCaughan and drummer Neil Hennessy. In their newest release, Skeleton Coast, the band plays to an already satisfied audience. By combining the band’s tried-and-true punk style with a touching emphasis on lyric and tone, The Lawrence Arms deftly avoids disappointing their longtime fans.
Skeleton Coast is the epitome of desert inspiration. The album is rugged and a little mysterious, but also thoughtful and charming. With the band’s classic, variegated sound constantly jumping from vocalist to vocalist and circling a number of rock/punk influences, there is never a dull moment on the project. With 14 total songs but a runtime of only 34 minutes, each track makes a short but sweet point. Though several of the songs run together in the memory of Skeleton Coast, there are several standout tracks.
The opener, “Quiet Storm,” begins with a somber tune backed by several bouncing electric guitar chords. Several moments in, the song bursts forth with a flurry of punk energy and loud, clear and pointed vocals. This song serves as a catchy opener; it’s not too dark, but still edgy and captivating. The following track, “PTA” intensifies the listener’s experience with a quick and coherent delinquent-like style gritty vocals and ripping guitar.
Skeleton Coast makes use of a more eerie desert sound in songs like, “Dead Man’s Coat” and “(The) Demon.” Rapid and abrasive guitar chords jive with hairy lyrics and metered percussion to produce a unique experience in several songs on this album. Other notable lyrical songs include “How to Rot,” “Ghostwriter” and “Don’t Look at Me.” These three have a stronger rock influence and exude a more straightforward and wholesome sound. The last three songs on this album, including “Lose Control,” “”Don’t Look at Me” and outro “Coyote Crown” are very well written. The aforementioned “Lose Control” is measured and especially melodically pleasing, standing out as potentially the strongest track on the album. Though it is rather simplistic instrumentally, there are several creative uses of feedback and effects that make this song stand out from the rest of the album. Overall, it comes off as the most thoughtful and intentional track of the 14.
It seems as though this album was produced rather quickly, and several of the songs were similar enough to be dropped or combined in editing. However, there are gems in this album that deserve significant attention and praise. Skeleton Coast is an exciting release for devoted fans and explorative punk enthusiasts alike. Anyone searching for either a little bit of West Texas spirit, or a lot of punk gusto might just find a home here.