by Tim Den
It’s a shame that a usual cause for celebration – new music from Lagwagon – is overshadowed by tragedy. As most know by now, original drummer Derrick Plourde took his own life earlier this year. The sense of loss suffered by all who knew him and/or loved his playing was enormous. Hit especially hard was vocalist Joey Cape, who’d been playing with Plourde in Bad Astronaut. Resolve is Cape’s grieving process put to music: From shock, anger, despair, mourning, to fond remembrance, laid out bare and raw for the world to hear. It is the product of one man’s necessary purging in order to move on from the death of a close friend. As a result, it is deeply personal, unflinchingly harsh in its subject matter, and full of the usual tear-jerking punk goodness.
Though melodically less stellar than the likes of Let’s Talk About Feelings and Hoss, Resolve‘s main strength lies in its words. By the time we reach closer “Days of New,” it begins to feel obvious that Resolve is one breath. One breath that extends over the entire spectrum of pain, of course, but a cohesive, continuous thought that empties Cape of everything he wants to say about Plourde. As “Days of New” upholds the Lagwagon tradition of killer album enders, the pinnacle of anguish reached on the previous song’s (“Infectious”) ending (“goodbye old friend… I won’t speak of all that could’ve been”) gives way to positivity as Cape sings “hey Derrick, maybe somehow you’re listening/today’s mantra is gratitude/you changed my life, I’m sure you knew/I’ll never forget the words that you said, the life that you led/I’ll never forget, I’ll never forget, I’ll never forget, I’ll never forget.” Perhaps Plourde’s life “could not begin to be described in just one record” (states the liner notes), but Resolve sure gives everyone effected the strength to carry on.