The 19th century Muscovite, Fyodor Dostoyevsky had a narrow miss with a firing squad. And consequently, we received Crime and Punishment from the later stage of his authorship, post a four-year Siberian exile. Whilst The Lawrence Arms’ absence was double that deficiency since Oh! Calcutta!, they have delivered their sixth studio album, Metropole on Epitaph Records.
The listener is presented with a dulcet of cheers and a brief, lo-fi chorus before the introductory sounds of tom-toms on Chilean District. A subtle and spectral whisper is uttered prior to the upbeat back-and-forth vocal duel of Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan. “Walking on eggshells covered in flies”, typifies the beatnik literary high that surfaces in peaks and troughs throughout Metropole. The reoccurring themes of anguish, loneliness and drunkenness form an existential hell-broth that beckons the listener to decipher the chain of loosely connected vignettes; perhaps, a tip of the hat to The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Title track, Metropole, begins with a somber McCaughan above his Sundowner acoustic narrating a story concerning distance and time. The acoustic wither’s into gain over the harsh toke of Kelly who recalls never writing his mother (not the first time we’ve heard a reference to writing his mother). The song gradually builds with each separate part until its last words, “this is the end of all things.”
Melancholy is a prominent motif but the simple hues of orange leaves, yellow lights and neon trees provide occasional feelings of euphoria. To dissect and construe this record can be just as rewarding as interpreting a piece of Russian literature. If Metropole were a book, October Blood would be the final chapter as the familiar sounds of the introductory lo-fi chorus comes to life, the same whisper is hurled and in the dying seconds, the cheer leads us to fruition.
BY MATT MARASCO
Best Track:The YMCA Down The Street From The Clinic
If You Like These You’ll Like: ALKALINE TRIO, THE MENZINGERS, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS
In A Word: Skip-Drunk-Tweets