Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Mekons: Ancient & Modern: 1911-2011 [Sin, 2011]
I had to play this two dozen times on faith before it came clear--too many, don't you think? What kept me on it was the ingrained musicality of a bunch of jokers who've evolved into a sonic organism even though they never see each other anymore, defined by "afar and forlorn" Welshman-for-life Tom Greenhalgh, who three decades in is a singer you love or you don't. Having given up on changing the world and without much hope of comprehending it before it kills them, they convene here to record 11 obscure, fraught, forlorn songs written, near as one can tell, from the POV of middle-to-ruling class Britons negotiating the political turmoil before World War I. There will be victories for a working class that's called by its rightful name. But they won't be enough. They never are. Near as one can tell. A-