Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Mekons: Punk Rock [Quarterstick, 2004]
Periodizing their history for fun and mainly profit on their 2002 tour, the Mekons who could remember back that far--namely, trouper Jonboy Langford and sufferer Tom Greenhalgh--relearned the punk rants that set the stage for their transition to faux country. These aren't indelible tunes like "At Home He's a Tourist" or "Suspect Device." But months later they're still getting not just stronger but rawer, which isn't how this game usually works. One comparison is the eponymous hardcore album Rancid dropped in 2000 when ska felt played out, but this is sharper and more varied. Who could not love how "32 Weeks," in which Rico Bell I think it is bellows out how much time it takes to earn the price of a car, a mattress, a bottle of whiskey, leads to "Work All Week," in which Jonboy promises his beloved gold itself? A-