When Lucky Boys Confusion debuted with 1998's Growing Out of It, they were able to achieve some level of notability riding the dwindling popularity of third wave ska-punk. While their mixture of pop-punk, hip-hop and ska upstrokes did come off as kind of trend-hopping, it was hard to deny that they could write a good pop tune. Several albums later and the band went into a semi-hiatus but soon announced they were going to be releasing a new album, the fittingly titled Closing Arguments. It was somewhat misleading, though, as this is more of a compilation of demos, B-sides and versions of songs from other projects.
The one completely new tune, "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us," chosen to usher in the collection, is a great hooky pop-rock song anchored by a layer of acoustic guitar. The lyrics about leaving behind a town and life that has become stagnant, exemplified by the big chorus of:
Tonightis some the catchiest stuff this side of Kris Roe's hairline, as the pleading inflection of vocalist Kaustubh Pandav shows his knack for winning melodies that hasn't changed. Sadly, this highlight seems to serve to emphasize how the rest of the album is made up of leftover ideas, as the big buildups and anthemic choruses on songs like "Hedonist II" and "Paint," for all their enthusiasm, end up being pretty forgettable. The only other song that really recaptures the catchiness of "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" is the song directly following it, "Biggest Mistake," which originally appeared on Pandav's side project Shock Star's EP, Feel for a Heartbeat. This creates a top-heavy flow to the album and really only makes the listener want to repeat the opening punch, because even though the following "18 Years" is one of the better songs on the album, it fails as a followup to those two.
I'll drive tonight
Even the sleepless sleep sometimes
Close your eyes tight
I'll drive tonight
We can leave anytime we want to
We can leave anytime we want to"
Since LBC always had a mix of genres going on, it seems like a shame that a number of their songs here use too many different parts in a single song; as soon as a sense of comfort in a progression or melody sets in, they move on to something else. "Sidewalk Graves" is the biggest victim of these jarring transitions, as it changes from a verse with light reggae pop tinges into a chorus that reflects `70s arena rock, then to a rockabilly bounce and back with nothing ever really lasting long enough to stick. A little variety is praiseworthy, as most pop-rock bands use the same verse-chorus-verse formula over and over. Yet, the times when it works, such as "Shoulda Been Me" with its 1950s girl group arrangement and backup vocals, are overshadowed by the more obvious moments of confusing transitions.
If Closing Arguments is indeed Lucky Boys Confusion's final chapter in their recording catalogue, it is mostly a disappointment as "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" shows they still have what it takes to write a good pop song. This is only recommended for completists and long-time fans.