When the world feels barren, Chicago punk veterans the Lawrence Arms build hopeon July 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm

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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