Lagwagon - Hang (Fat Wreck Chords)

After a nine year break, the quintet return, but it's not all fun and games
Release Date: 
28 Oct 2014 - 10:30am

Fans of Lagwagon will know how much the band has changed, or evolved, over the last twenty two years. Fans of Lgwagon will also know that the untimely death of No Use For A Name frontman Tony Sly in 2012 had a profound affect on his best friend and Lagwagon vocalist Joey Cape. There's an inevitability about the impact this will have had on the album, and the signs are there from very early on (not least in the song titles)

Opening acoustic number Burden of Proof gives way to the classic Lagwagon halfbeat drum sound of Reign. However, although there's clear skate punk heritage throughout this album the overall sound is much more classic rock, with Cog in the Machine and Drag having an almost Judas Priest-like feel.

The SoCal stalwarts also enter into new territory with Obsolete Absolute. At over six minutes, this is not something we've come to expect from a band who once recorded a sub-2 min song about how important coffee is. Western Setttlements bears a passing resemblance to Noble End from their debut album Duh in the sense that it is a good old fashioned protest song, only now, Cape's vocal is less angry and more disappointed.

The impact of Sly's death comes to a head with the tribute One More Song. Any fan of skate punk will struggle not to get a bit of a throat lump as Cape croons the immortal line, "I'll always long for one more song Tony". Sad times indeed.

Concluding with the firey, anger-filled In Your Wake, this is no doubt a departure from the jovial pop punk of yore. It shows how the band has grown up and become parents, and see the world differently, particularly as only Cape and guitarist Chris Flippin remain from the original line-up. It doesn't paint a competely bleak picture but as with more archetypally socially aware bands like as Rise Against, Cape's excellent lyrics create vivid imagery about the world we live in. It's a spectacularly emotive album and this scribe in particular hope there's not another nine years before we see more.

Hang is out now on Fat Wreck Chords