Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Everclear: Songs From an American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile [Capitol, 2000]
All doubts as to Art Alexakis's punk bona fides are hereby laid to rest--he doesn't have any. Instead he chooses to whup Dave Grohl, the jerk from the Verve Pipe, and if there's any justice Rob Thomas in postgrunge's Bryan Adams sweepstakes. The corn he indulges on this fondly detailed end-of-a-marriage song cycle has nothing to do with abstracted teen agony and everything with classic Garth Brooks, except that Garth never waxed nostalgic for the days he and his honey whiled away watching porn and eating Chinese. Laying on strings, horns, synths, and backup vocals to a fare-thee-well, it makes honest peace with a pop moment when honest pop is the toughest artistic challenge there is. Volume two will supposedly return to the guitar-o-rama of his roots--without any loss of principle, one trusts. A-