LAWRENCE ARMS, THE: We Are the Champions of the World: 2xLP

A kind of retrospective collection, rather than a greatest hits. Selected songs that span the entirety of their catalog. Twenty-nine of ‘em, from 1999’s A Guided Tour of Chicago up to 2014’s Metropole, with the fourth side of the double album featuring a number of unreleased songs. They get a lot of flack from certain factions in the punk scene for being formulaic, when in actuality they’ve been doing this stuff for nigh on twenty years and might instead be considered some of the first crop of “beard punk” or “orgcore” whatever. They’ve always been excellent lyricists, and for a three-piece can certainly craft some dynamic songs. Anyway, Champions has beautiful gatefold packaging, excellent sound and design, hilarious liner notes, and the unreleased songs (mostly from the Oh! Calcutta! sessions) are pretty solid. As someone who already has most of these songs but isn’t a completist, I don’t think I’d ever buy this, but it certainly serves a great introduction to the band, and for those of you who need everything they’ve ever put out, the unreleased stuff will be a treat. –Keith Rosson (Fat)