The Lawrence Arms - Apathy and Exhaustion (Cover Artwork)

The Lawrence Arms

Apathy and Exhaustion (2002)


The 2002 release of Apathy and Exhaustion redistributed, and furthermore redefined the assembly of how the Lawrence Arms discography would shapen for decades to come. The first two studio albums A Guided Tour of Chicago, and 2000's Ghost Stories, while Asian Man Records powerhouses, lacked the formula that carried the band above and beyond to the new Fat Wreck Chords release.

Even just the four song titles that open the record allow the meticulous ebb and flow of stylistic variation to breathe, with the music following suit along the way. Bassist Brendan Kelly's snotted opening to "Porno and Snuff Films" smashed into the honesty and hopelessness of guitarist Chris McCaughan's "The First Eviction Notice," the pitted openness of Kelly's "Navigating the Windward Passage" trainwrecking (literally) into the fragile intro of "Your Gravest Words," showcasing McCaughan's heart on his sleeve, and in a selfless, and relatable way, completing only one-third of an LP that is cohesively spectacular from start to finish.

"Boat Less Booze Cruise Party" presents Kelly in a much slower dynamic, tilting the needle in an even more unexpected direction, and sewing perfectly to another Chris number in "Brick Wall Views." The single-kick logistics crammed into the intro of "The Corpses of Our Motivations" spark as better time than ever to appreciate drummer Neil Hennessy, who tastefully carries the three piece on the entire album, honoring the etiquette of the instrumentation while driving his unique precision behind the kit.

The tracklisting sends it home with back to back bangers ""I'll Take What's in the Box Monty," and the somber "Right as Rain, Pt. 2," spoiling the listener as if they are showing off at this point. "3am QVC Shopping Spree Hangover" hits hard with some energy that is then immediately exhaled in closer "Abracadaver," which screams outro, and in a great way.

Apathy and Exhaustion is a masterpiece, and shaped what would continue to this day of magnificent TLA releases. It also stood as a 36 minute tutorial for any early '00's band, teaching them that dynamics are welcome and important, that punk rock has no rules, and to always equip both a distorted tone and a dirty clean, or you aren't going to get even close to writing at the capacity of where punk rock will be defined from that moment on. Killer.