The Lawrence Arms – We Are the Champions of the World 2xLP/ CD (Fat Wreck)

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My first exposure to The Lawrence Arms was their 2002 album Apathy & Exhaustion. When I heard that record I was convinced this wasn’t a normal band, but was in fact a laboratory-crafted scientific experiment to provide Jawbreaker fans with an acceptable alternative since the demise of their heroes in the mid-90s. Okay, The Lawrence Arms were by no means a copy band; what both three piece outfits had in common was that both were able to bottle their magical formula of melancholic rock and distil that down into furious shots of catchy punk rock. Now to celebrate (almost) 20 years of existence, Fat Wreck has put together this huge collection, with the band members themselves cherry-picking material spanning the length of their career. The early material taken from the Asian Man records years is bouncy pop-punk that flies along without the introspection of later releases on Fat Wreck and much later, Epitaph.  For me, there were a couple of standout bands peddling the melodic punk rock fayre throughout the nineties including Against Me!, Leatherface, The Flatliners and Dillinger Four, and The Lawrence Arms are definitely up in that league. For existing fans of the band this collection turns to gold with the inclusion of five previously unreleased tracks, and for everyone else this is a perfect introduction to a great band. Tom Chapman

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