When the world feels barren, Chicago punk veterans the Lawrence Arms build hope | Music Review | Chicago Reader

When the world feels barren, Chicago punk veterans the Lawrence Arms build hope 

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click to enlarge The Lawrence Arms

The Lawrence Arms

Ben Pier

Chicago punk trio the Lawrence Arms formed in 1999, and they’re aging remarkably well. Rather than settle for the kind of navel-gazing that’s common among bands of their vintage—commemorating, say, the milestone anniversary of an old favorite album with a long tour—they’ve continued to evolve as they make new music. On their seventh album, Skeleton Coast (Epitaph), the Lawrence Arms transmute their rat-a-tat drive and sweet-but-tough melodies into bruised anthems; these ruddy, lived-in songs provide a perfect setting for the band’s two singers, guitarist Chris McCaughan and bassist Brendan Kelly, to survey our scorched-earth landscape and contemplate a better future. They’re realists who can find beauty in the muck, and this makes even tracks such as “Coyote Crown”—where McCaughan considers a world-burning apocalypse—feel quixotically hopeful. These days, every morning can bring a barrage of new signs that the end is nigh; the Lawrence Arms don’t spare us from the ugly truth, but Skeleton Coast at least makes the onrushing disaster seem like something we can survive together.   v

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