It has been more than 10 years since Brendan Kelly joined forces with Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessy to form The Lawrence Arms. While The Lawrence Arms continues to roll along as a successful Chi-Town punk rock outfit, the need to break out of the punk rock niche seems to be what Brendan Kelly is looking for in the form of the semi-solo effort I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever.
The album features Kelly on vocals and guitar with a backing band to fill in the blanks. In many respects, this album feels like a stripped-down Lawrence Arms album. This could be because Kelly’s vocals are so recognizable and synonymous with the band’s sound. That familiar Arms’ sound can be heard throughout the album, especially in cuts like “Doin’ Crimes” and “What’s a Boy To Do?”
Mixed in with some of the more punk-ish cuts are a few toned-down tracks. “Ramblin’ Revisited” comes across as a driving acoustic Americana folk camp-side tune, which is perfect considering Kelly’s vocals scream to be heard in a song like this. Other cuts off of I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever range from the more catchy selections like the opening track “Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me,” to more straightforward rock tunes like, “East St. Louis.” Even with Kelly not settling to one particular musical on this effort, the flow of this album works nicely. Each track seems to flow right into the next. A solid album indeed.
(Red Scare Industries, PO Box 13285, Chicago, IL 60613)