The Lawrence Arms

Ghost Stories

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Ghost Stories came out less than half-a-year after the Lawrence Arms' debut, A Guided Tour of Chicago, but it's a top-to-bottom improvement over their monochromatic first album. It's not a return to singer/songwriters Brendan Kelly and Christopher "McCooch" McCaughan's earlier band, the Broadways, in terms of that group's pop-punk sound, but that group's attention to melodic detail, which had been largely absent from A Guided Tour of Chicago, returns in full here, making it a much more varied and interesting listen. Also, McMaughan steps up to the vocal mic a bit more often than before, further enriching the sound. Finally, the songwriting is simply much better this time out, with brief little post-hardcore gems like "Sixteen Hours" and the jangly, hypnotic "Minute" offsetting more expansive songs like the comic, star-struck story "Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)." Even better efforts were forthcoming, but Ghost Stories was a most encouraging improvement.

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