Late for Nothing: Iwrestledabearonce Ease Into Maturity
I admit it: I found Iwrestledabearonce’s last offering, 2011’s Ruining it for Everybody, slightly underwhelming. It’s not that there was anything wrong with it per se — in fact, it had at least one incredibly-killer song on it (“Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly”) — so much as it just felt like more of the same ol’ same ol’ from a band whose appeal is that their music is usually anything but. It felt like maybe it was time for them to take another cue from their spiritual forbearers, Genghis Tron, and do a little growing — for them to make the Board Up the House to their Cloak of Love, so to speak.
And, hey-o!, on their third full-length, Late for Nothing, they’ve done just that. The band has changed vocalists (buh-bye Krysta Cameron, hull-o Courtney LaPlante), but, more substantially, they’ve done some (gasp!) maturing in the songwriting department. Sure, the goofy song titles are still there (and are still totally irrelevant to the quality of the music), but now their song structures are more conventional, their riffs catchier, their transitions often less jarring, therefore giving the transitions that are jarring (“Firebees,” “Carnage Asada,” a.k.a. “The Song with the Steve Vai Guest Solo”) that much more punch — it’s the difference between someone who tries to scare you by screaming “BOO!!!!” at you every couple of minutes versus the person who tries to scare you by screaming “BOO!!!!” once every couple of days. You’re not constantly waiting for it, so ya don’t see it coming. Even LaPlante’s lyrics are somewhat more straightforward, if not less poetic (“I am the rope you are hanging on,” she squalls on “Mind the Gap”).
Words like “conventional” and “straightforward” might not seem exactly complimentary, and there’s certainly something to be said for youthful verve. But, like I said, it’s good to hear the band trying something new, and besides — Late for Nothing is a case of good songwriting conquering all: the soaring choruses on tracks like “Thunder Chunky” and “Letters to Stallone” are guaranteed to get stuck in your head. In fact, if the album isn’t quite the slam-dunk that It’s All Happening was, it’s only because the the second half isn’t nearly as infectious as the first (although the guitar tip at the 1:20 mark of “I’d Buy That for a Dollar” is fucking AWESOME). Late is front-loaded with the best material, which means that even it’s relatively brisk running time may not feel quite as brisk as it ought to.
But it’s still a winner. It’s a little weird to think of the usually-quite-silly (on purpose) IWABO growing up, but we all have to do it some time. They’re certainly doing it the right way.