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Lagwagon

I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen to Lagwagon

(Fat Wreck; US: 19 Aug 2008; UK: Available as import)

As a veteran pop-punk band, and perhaps the last remaining band from Fat Wreck’s mid-90s salad days, Lagwagon are aging remarkably well. Their last two albums, Blaze and Resolve, were maybe the best of their career. Both were full of hooks and about-face mid-song tempo changes, and Joey Cape’s lyrics were both smart and emotionally complex.


With their new EP, nothing has changed. In fact, the one complaint might be the self-referential album title. This is not a ironic release about aging in the punk world. It’s seven strong tracks that often find Cape and company looking fruitlessly for some sort of escape. “No Little Pill” tries prescriptions as a way to distance a citizen from alienation in Bush’s America. “Errands” shows Cape moving across the country to start anew. But no matter where Cape tries to go in these songs, he can’t leave behind a combination of war-time strife and personal politics. The strength of the EP comes in the way Cape meshes the two, conflating personal problems and political battles, eventually making them not one in the same, necessarily, but perhaps causes for each other.


The album also shows a surprising musical variety in just seven tracks. “Memoirs and Landmines” and “Live It Down” are moody pieces of power pop, while “Errands” splits time between breakneck punk rock verses and broodingly quiet breakdowns. As always, Lagwagon prove themselves great musicians and songsmiths. They haven’t given their fans anything new, necessarily, with this EP. But it still hones their craft into a sound just a little sharper. Their goofy promo pics and strange antics would have you believe they’re a bunch of irresponsible slackers. But make no mistake, Lagwagon continues to take the long view, with excellent results.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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