If you don't mind your punk rock including ruminations on the loss of innocence and recognition of the cynicism that comes with growing older, meet the Lawrence Arms.
The Chicago trio - Chris McCaughan on guitars and vocals, Brendan Kelly on bass and vocals and drummer Neil Hennessy - have five fine albums under their belt, and "Metropole" - the band's first in eight years - may be their best.
These tracks, produced by the band along with veteran indie producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio, Menzingers), walk a fine line between raucousness and refinement, with decidedly more commercial sheen than past efforts.
The tense, crackling guitars on "Metropole" have been recorded beautifully. The compulsory driving guitars roar with anthemic power on "You Are Here," and interact with precise, ringing delicacy on the sublime "Beautiful Things."
"Acheron River" harnesses a high-energy attack to an explosive chorus, fashioning memorable hooks, aggression and crisp riffs into the best track on a remarkably consistent album.
Punk fans are famous for crying sellout when their heroes add a touch more coherence and polish to the usual chaos, but don't listen to them. Bands such as the Lawrence Arms that can play thrillingly melodic music with the power, finesse and emotional resonance heard here are a rarity.
Consumer notes: If profanity is an issue, be forewarned that "Metropole" contains a considerable amount of it, most humorously on "Drunk Tweets."
Also, the expanded digital-only version includes the three fine songs from the "News From Yalta" EP.
THE LAWRENCE ARMS
Rating: 4 stars.
Watch the music video for "You Are Here" from "Metropole."