Man, these guys are pissed.
Well, OK, there’s no real way to know for sure whether these guys are actually pissed off or not, but The Boss sure sounds like it sometimes. A mere 45 seconds into the album, the three-piece is already drawing lines in the sand amidst a shellacking of drums and springing guitars; the guitars disappear rapidly, and two vocalists are left furiously spitting calls of, “Who’s fucking side are you fucking on?” over vicious drumming.
Why would The Boss be so angry? Well, there could be a lot of reasons, really. Maybe they’re upset about the lack of true funk in the world (a theory supported by the band’s inclusion of a few lines of Prince’s “U Got The Look” into the opening of the track “Jim’ll Fix It”). Maybe the bassist and guitarist realize how absolutely amazing the drummer is, and his insane beats just drive them into a fury … or maybe, just maybe, the problem is that The Boss is angry about trying to stretch an EP of potentially great listening into a full-length disc.
The general idea of The Boss is great, actually, because for as angry as these guys are, they’re still pretty tuneful. The band takes a full 180 degree turn on the album’s second track, “Disco,” which is abrasive, but yet, almost danceable at the same time. “Your Scene” carries the same vibe. The opening 20 seconds of guitar-and-drums play like an animated, off-beat marching cadence, but from there, the song stops and starts back into a bouncy arrangement. “I Say Damn” gets bonus points for its title, but the song itself is a stellar track full of crazed drumming and math-y verse structures (and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the vocalists howl the title a few times). The longest song of the album, “Stutter,” is also one of the best, sounding like a track Hot Water Music or Against Me! would be happy to have written.
The problem with all of these aggressive vocals and peppy rhythms is that they don’t necessarily stay fresh. There are standout tracks amongst the album, but some of Lay Down Your Firearms drones on. While the drumming is outstanding through even the most tired tracks (“Oh Margate” and “Hey Sailor” come to mind), close to half the record is just uneventfully low key (the most interesting part of “Jim’ll Fix It” is the aforementioned Price quoting).
In an age where artists are constantly releasing 14 and 15 track albums stuffed with filler material, The Boss is a peculiar beast. With ten tracks clocking in at a mere 27 minutes in length, one would expect Lay Down Your Firearms to be a lean, mean album, rather than a disc with four tracks to skip past with the stereo remote. While that fact is a disappointment, however, the rest of the material is still more than worth the time spent listening. Geez, even if there weren’t five great songs here, the drumming itself would warrant giving the disc a spin or three.