The Lawrence Arms

The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Though the Lawrence Arms' The Greatest Story Ever Told can't be expected to live up to its tongue-in-cheek title, the album is a surprisingly strong set of fresh pop punk that avoids the trappings and clich├ęs of the genre. The sputtering, old-time sounding introduction makes for a unique entryway to the sparkling and grandiose (Sunny Day Real Estate-esque) "The Raw and Searing Flesh." "On with the Show" sounds like the Germs crossed with X, and "The March of the Elephants" thunders with an off-kilter, post-punk edge. With lyrics like "the swirl of smoke looks like her slender body," "Fireflies" -- one of the record's best tracks -- could almost be the Weakerthans or Waxwing, and if the Lawrence Arms followed suit with those groups, and added just a touch of country-rock to their work, they'd be astounding. The Greatest Story Ever Told is an album that will grow on you -- it gets better and better with repeated listens, and like the Queens of the Stone Age, they use multiple vocalists to great effect, insuring that things never get repetitive or boring. Though it doesn't depart as much from its peers as something like Saves the Day's remarkable In Reverie, The Greatest Story spotlights the Lawrence Arms as one of the best power punk groups of 2003, and one that, with a little more genre-bending innovation, could create a real rock and roll masterpiece.

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