Californian punk band Lagwagon were last seen basking in the summer glow of success, having gained a devoted underground fanbase alongside punk’s growing popularity in the 1990s. While Lagwagon have hardly had a day off of the road since their formation, their music came to a halt in 2005 with their last studio album. However, that’s all changed now with the release of Hang, their first album in nine years.
Having such a loyal following means Lagwagon obviously did something right, and their trademark punk rock has kept them in favour with fans for almost 25 years. However, it seems they have decided it’s time to reinvent themselves, and the result is Hang– the last thing you’d expect from a self-proclaimed punk rock band.
The punky feel of Lagwagon has been pushed aside in Hang to make way for a host of brand new sounds. To push the limits so far to begin with tracks ‘The Cog in the Machine’ and ‘Made of Broken Parts’ even include a touch of (not so heavy) metal for good measure. ‘Obsolete Absolute’, has a lengthy alt-rock intro with a sexy bass riff and elaborate guitar that would be more at home with Biffy Clyro than a band like Lagwagon. But this isn’t the only fresh sound hidden within Hang– ‘Western Settlements’ is pure hard rock that could just as easily come from Foo Fighters whereas ‘One More Song’ has a slow piano melody and deep, haunting vocals that resonate with darker bands such as After Midnight Project. You can practically hear the band’s inner Dave Grohl screaming out! Other tracks, such as ‘Burning Out in Style’ and ‘Drag’ take us back to Lagwagon’s ‘90s roots but, instead of bright Californian punk rock, we get hints of the juxtaposed perky emo style made famous by bands such as Jimmy Eat World.
There are still tip-offs towards the old Lagwagon in songs such as ‘Reign’ and ‘Poison in the Well’, which salute the faster, bouncier, catchier punk that the band are so well-associated with. However, there is no getting away from the fact that they have taken a huge risk with Hang, it being such a departure from their previous music. The risk seems to have paid off though- there isn’t a single song on the whole 12-track album that isn’t likeable. Every track has its own unique appeal that hooks us and keeps us hanging on to see what quirks the next tune has to offer. Whether Lagwagon will keep hold of their old fanbase with an album like this is uncertain, but they could easily gain a whole new one.