The Lawrence Arms Credit: Ben Pier

Chicago punk trio the Lawrence Arms formed in 1999, and they’re aging remarkably well. Rather than settle for the kind of navel-gazing that’s common among bands of their vintage—commemorating, say, the milestone anniversary of an old favorite album with a long tour—they’ve continued to evolve as they make new music. On their seventh album, Skeleton Coast (Epitaph), the Lawrence Arms transmute their rat-a-tat drive and sweet-but-tough melodies into bruised anthems; these ruddy, lived-in songs provide a perfect setting for the band’s two singers, guitarist Chris McCaughan and bassist Brendan Kelly, to survey our scorched-earth landscape and contemplate a better future. They’re realists who can find beauty in the muck, and this makes even tracks such as “Coyote Crown”—where McCaughan considers a world-burning apocalypse—feel quixotically hopeful. These days, every morning can bring a barrage of new signs that the end is nigh; the Lawrence Arms don’t spare us from the ugly truth, but Skeleton Coast at least makes the onrushing disaster seem like something we can survive together.   v