The Lawrence Arms Oh! Calcutta!

After 2003’s uneven The Greatest Story Ever Told, the Lawrence Arms make a triumphant return to form with their fifth full-length, the urgent, original Oh! Calcutta! — a tracked-in-analog triumph that recalls the grittier sound of their days on Asian Man Records. Still trading off vocal duties, Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan find the perfect balance between their disparate vocal styles, with less of a "this is Brendan’s song; this is Chris’s song” feeling than some of their past work. On "Great Lakes/Great Escapes,” the two vocalists spend close to the entire song delivering their own distinct vocal lines and harmonies in an equally powerful way. The gelling of Brendan’s gruff, straight-up punk delivery and Chris’s smoother vocals hits its peak on "Beyond the Embarrassing Style,” as the listener would be hard-pressed to determine which of the two the original songwriter was. Hard-hitting, melodic, and as good as any of their past work, Oh! Calcutta! is a fine example of a band reaching the top of their game. (Fat Wreck)