The Waiting Room is Poor Old Lu's first album after a five-year hiatus. While vocalist Scott Hunter and bassist Nick Barber have no doubt been dabbling in music in their own ways, the Sprinkle brothers have been perfecting their production skills, with Aaron (guitar) becoming house engineer/producer at Compound Studios and Jesse (drums) working on a wide variety of projects as producer and engineer. Such skills have helped Poor Old Lu a great deal and in other ways have hurt them. While it is obvious they know their way around a studio, including how to make an album sound good, it seems that this Seattle quartet has done so at some of the expense of the emotion displayed on their earlier albums, especially the tragically dark Straight Six. Though the 11 rock songs played here are done so competently and the production obviously sounds flawless, the subject matter doesn't seem nearly as raw as previous material. In other words, The Waiting Room sounds like an album made by a band who has their stuff together. While it makes for a great-sounding album with more mainstream potential, the jump from five years ago to the present is obvious. Sometimes bands should stay broken up so that fans may keep the ideas they may have of them. Don't fear; this is a good album: polished, strong rock music that sparkles in its own way from track to track, whether through Hunter's unique yet capable vocals or the hooks which seem so rare in true alternative rock. The fans of Poor Old Lu's old songs enjoyed the tunes that seemed to erupt from a wealth of hurt, questioning, and introspection. These new songs may say the same things, but not in the same clouded, despondent manner that Sin, Straight Six, Mindsize, or A Picture of the Eighth Wonder did. Those unfamiliar with Poor Old Lu will do no wrong checking into The Waiting Room first, but don't be surprised if upon a search of the back catalog, one finds themselves getting two distinct emotional messages. Five years can bring a world of change.
AllMusic Review by Kurt Morris