Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rhett Miller: The Instigator [Elektra, 2002]
With producer Jon Brion overdubbing band parts, these pretty-hooks-all-in-a-row end up too pick-'em-up-and-put-'em-down, and some of the lyrics are reductive, victims rather than bright clear examples of the high focus Miller sets his sights on. "Things That Disappear," for instance, doesn't fuse mortality and splitsville the way it means to. On the other hand, "This Is What I Do" is a statement of artistic purpose straightforward and subtle enough to justify anybody's solo debut. In his minor way, Miller is a major talent. I still miss the Old 97's. A-