The Lawrence Arms

A Guided Tour of Chicago

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The Lawrence Arms are basically a reconstituted version of mid-'90s Chicago pop-punks the Broadways, whose singer/songwriters Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan serve the same function here, backed by drummer Nick Hennessy. Unlike the Broadways, where Kelly and McCaughan shared vocal duties about evenly, Kelly takes the lion's share of the lead vocals on A Guided Tour of Chicago, spitting out his politically tinged lyrics in a harsh, sore-throat bark. Similarly, the Undertones-like melodic pop-punk of Broadways albums like Broken Star is here flattened into a more one-dimensional blast of speed and fury. The sharp, cogent lyrics of songs like "Someday We're All Gonna Weigh 400 Lbs." and the Chicago-specific "The North Side, the L&L and Any Number of Crappy Apartments" struggle against the monochromatic blur of melodies and riffs that don't change enough from song to song to keep A Guided Tour of Chicago from sounding like the band's just circling the block.

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