Music Reviews

Unwritten Law

Music in High Places


I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I thought Unwritten Law’s previous album, Elva, was pretty good. Dumb and user-friendly punk-pop, alright. But still pretty good stuff, played with an infectious energy. So I was curious about this release, a part of MTV’s Music in High Places series, with Unwritten Law visiting Yellowstone National Park to re-record some of their finest moments, most of them culled from that last release.

So it’s a bit disappointing when the final result shows a band drained from whatever it was that made them sound good in the first place. Music in High Places takes on the shape of an informal and loose jam session among friends, and sure, it’s pretty cozy and fun and all that. But it just seems so unmotivated and directionless, with the songs, paradoxically, losing most of their dynamics and carelessness in this acoustic setting.

It really is just “Elva” itself, the title track from their former album, that sounds better than on the original studio version, although they do a pretty good performance of the immediately following “How You Feel.” Elsewhere, this is mainly an album for the already converted, to pass the time until the next “real” album. The rest of us will do just fine without this.

Lava Records:

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