Lagwagon - Blaze
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After an overlong layoff, Lagwagon finally get back on the road with Blaze, their first new album in five years. They announced their return with a roundup of rarities, Let's Talk About Leftovers in 2002, then set off on tour, which brought their long-suffering fans running to catch them at Warped. So, was it worth the wait? Of course. In fact, it's like they never left. As always, Lagwagon continue to examine their inner selves and their relationships, express occasional emotional turmoil, and explore the political as personal. Of the latter, "Dividers" is an anthem for our ripped and torn world, its clarion cry of "no dividers" a call to end the rifts by which the Bush Administration is sundering our planet. But the band is from an earlier era, one marked by the belief that changing the world must be preceded by changing oneself, and Blaze is fired mostly by interior battles, with Lagwagon's music fueling the revolution. Still, their musings will resonate with most listeners, whether the subjects involve railing sweetly at noise pollution; dancing away one's apathy; wrestling with conflicted emotions; or being pushed and pulled by the politicians, press, and ersatz patriotism assaulting from every direction. The lyrics are more nuanced than the ever, the themes and concepts even more thoughtful than in the past, and yet the music remains defiantly singalong. A very welcome return.