“It’s new, it’s improved, it’s old-fashioned…”
Yes, I did just quote Tom Waits in the context of a Lagwagon review. Why? Well, Lagwagon is the original Fat Wreck Chords band, the one you can blame for thousands of imitators and possibly even that nasal, high-school smart-ass voice. So even when there’s a new record claiming new influences, new sounds, new emotions, you know exactly what you’re going to get.
And you still get it. Yes, this record is more of a downer than usual (it was heavily influenced by the suicide of original Lagwagon drummer Derrick Plourde), but Joey Cape’s back to singing like a teenager most of the time—though he’s learned something from his recent foray into acoustic recording, and he’s tossed in a ballady opening or two. The drums are still frenetically pounding and it’s still the same melodic-core with maybe a bit more emphasis on the “core.” Occasionally, the speeding drumbeat is at odds with the heavier and thicker vocals and guitars, and the lyrics, if you take time to look at them, speak of someone dealing with bigger issues that the girl-problems that dominate most pop-punk bands’ oeuvre. (Yes, I used that word, too.)
Still, it’s a Lagwagon record and that promises all the fun of the good old days. Sometimes I wonder if the world needed 800000 imitators, but I certainly can’t fault the originals for continuing to do what they always did.