Sad, raucous and painfully true
Mark McConville
15:26 13th July 2020

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Chicago has unearthed some monumental bands over the years. Within the windy city, there was a resurgence of acts which altered the landscape of modern punk rock. These outfits include Rise Against and dark princes of punk Alkaline Trio. Both of these music stalwarts have popularised punk in a way where it is more accessible and relevant. Also under that umbrella, are The Lawrence Arms - pushing punk in different, conceptual directions, spearheading small revolutions in a scene covered in blood, sweat and tears.

The band have shaken up punk rock and have become legends. Since 1999, they have rallied against the political grain, they’ve told stories through highly abrasive outputs, and they’ve shunted the establishment and those people who try to beat down the world. From their first release onwards, the stars of Chicago have sincerely made music for the disfranchised, the dreamers, the idealists, and the people who choose never to be placed under the finger of malevolent and corrupt rulers.  

That aside, The Lawrence Arms have created some of their most complete songs on their record Skeleton Coast. It is a record stylised to create talking points and it resonates. Although, don’t worry, this record still aims to nurture the punk rocker in you and it’ll put you on the cusp of losing yourself.

But futures are bleak in this fable. The pessimism rings true as their razor-sharp lyrics fall like written letters which flap in the sky. The truth is masked, hope carries too much weight and dreams fade. Skeleton Coast is such a naked, vulnerable record by a band who don’t reserve their feelings or trap their thoughts. Usually, as listeners we know what’s coming, but on this opus, the curtain reveals more than instruments and a microphone.

Skeleton Coast opens up with a pure embrace. ‘Quiet Storm' is a sincere track which falls into a fast paced guitar juggernaut. The lyrical strands convey loneliness and monotony. The future is already broken. ‘Pigeons and Spies’ is volatile. It connects the dots musically and the instrumental bite is a great addition to the vocals - tragedy is commonplace, wounds are deep. ‘Ghostwriter' is a lyrical masterclass and notes of truth scatter the base of pain. The quick fired riff pleases, and the descriptions startle. ‘Under Paris’ focuses on above standard songwriting, with great composition and pace. It’s a somber outing for The Lawrence Arms.

Skeleton Coast is one of the most comprehensive pieces of work by the Chicago punks. It’s sad, it’s raucous and it’s painfully true.

Skeleton Coast is released on 17 July 2020 via Epitaph Records. 

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