Lagwagon – Hang


Artist

Album

Hang

Label

Fat Wreck Chrods / Shock (AUS)

Year

2014

Genre

For Fans Of

Lagwagon

Summary

Getting older means a better sound but a loss of energy.

Rating

75 / 100

Lagwagon’s first release in nine years was much rumoured throughout the band’s extensive touring schedule; confirmation and denial came in equal droves, but Hang has finally emerged. The LP comes at the tail end of a mammoth world tour, and serves as Joe Raposo’s debut appearance after the departure of original member Jesse Buglione.  Lagwagon are a staple in the punk rock genre, and their eighth full length, Hang, solidifies their reputation as one of the most consistently impressive acts today.

For those who’ve grown up away from the sun kissed shores of California, Joey Cape’s distinct vocals have always been synonymous with never ending summers. Burning Out in Style’s riff and fast paced drum beat would fit perfectly as the soundtrack for a nostalgic Santa Monica skate montage and Reign’s same-line rhyme scheme is an easily digestable religious protest song for the new school inductees. But it’s Obsolete Absolute where Lagwagon show exactly how far they’ve progressed in their time away from the recording studio. Following a deceptively simple typewriter click intro, the alluring bass line rolls along in time before the riff highlight of the album kicks in. At six minutes long it takes up more than a tenth of the record time and on paper this track could’ve gone way off the rails. However, somehow, merging multiple different riffs and drumbeats together throughout its runtime with Cope soaring over the top is the most enjoyable moment of the album.

Everything sounds as it should be on Hang, but there’s never any threat of anything going wrong. It’s entirely likely this was a conscious decision by the band in order to show that they’re still able to perform as well as they did a decade ago, but punk rock was never built on studio perfection. A less manufactured sound would have greatly remedied the underlying feeling that there’s unreleased energy lying beneath the surface of the album.

One More Song plays out with a sense of remorse instead of unbridled anger, and In Your Wake sounds as if it should be screamed with every scrap of life left in Cope’s body, but each cry is more reserved than powerful. Regardless, the “inside your head” refrain at the close of the album is infectious, and Hang finishes strong.

Conclusion

Nearing their 50s, it’s understandable that Lagwagon don’t sound like they did at the peak of their success. As the band has grown older, they haven’t necessarily lost their youthful spirit, they’ve just decided to channel it into craftsmanship instead of entering the studio and jamming it out. Still, it would’ve been enjoyable to hear the band edge towards controlled disaster rather than sonic perfection.

Tracklisting

1. Burden of Proof
2. Reign
3. Made of Broken Parts
4. The Cog in the Machine
5. Poison in the Well
6. Obsolete Absolute
7. Western Settlements
8. Burning Out in Style
9. One More Song
10. Drag
11. You Know Me
12. In Your Wake

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