On their second full-length, Pessimism & Satire, Logan Square seem to have their hearts in the right place and their fingers on the right chords, making for a pretty smooth melodic rock album -- but nothing more.
What scores Logan Square the most points is that they keep things relatively simple. I suppose a negative way of saying that could have been that they don't challenge the listener, but it's not every band's duty to do so. There's a few valid criticisms that can be made about the album, but those shouldn't overshadow some of its better aspects.
First off, this album is polished to a fucking tee. Sean O'Keefe took a band that had previously worked for the most part entirely independently and did his magic on them. Keefe's resume includes Hawthorne Heights, Fall Out Boy, and Motion City Soundtrack, so the smoothness of the band's sound is expected.
Pessimism & Satire works for what it is. It's disposable, and I'd be hard-pressed to believe that Logan Square honestly believe they are adding anything new to their scene or will be thought of as an important or once-relevant band in 20 years. On the surface that might sound like a diss, but it's not. Not every band needs to be important, and it's the ones that know they're not that can actually be fun to listen to once in a while. If Logan Square can continue to play this type of music without a feeling of pretentiousness, they'd be better than off -- although poorer -- than many of their contemporaries.
The press sheet accompanying Pessimism & Satire claims that Logan Square "has a sound that combines the dark, slightly morbid undertones of Alkaline Trio with the melodic romanticism of bands like Jawbreaker and the Ataris." While the band might have spent a lot of time listening to bands like Alkaline Trio and Jawbreaker, Logan Square come without the clever wordplay or musicianship those bands will be/are remembered for. Lyrically, the band falls short of stringing together anything more than sentences that can be found on a number of random MySpace blog entries.
Sure, there are plenty of slightly morbid undertones on Pessimism & Satire, but that doesn't mean they're expressed maturely or interestingly. Lead singer / guitar player Brad Chagdes used to write lyrics to songs in middle-high; it's too bad it seems as though he kept some of them for this album. While Skiba sang, "Crack my head open on the kitchen floor to prove to you that I have brains," Chagdes settles for "I wish I could see your face again, memories don't last forever." Pessimism & Satire doesn't sound mature, but I'm not foolish enough to believe that they wrote it with my age group in mind. The high school students I just finished teaching would eat this up.
Logan Square sound like a less novel version of some of their peers. They play straight-up melodic pop-rock, and on the pop-rock scale they should score pretty high. Fans of the other bands Keefe has worked with are going to love this, and I'd rather have those fans listening to Logan Square than Hawthorne Heights.