Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Old 97's: Most Messed Up [ATO, 2014]
"I'm not crazy about songs that get self-referential," declares lead track "Longer Than You've Been Alive," which goes on at impressive length about the most self-referential of all rock and roll topics, Life On The Road. Only here's the thing--it may not be the best such song, but I haven't thought of a better one. And it's also a Theme Statement, because without gauchely claiming Concept, the whole record is about Life On The Road. The pretty-boy is off Rhett Miller's voice on their most raucous studio album, which for someone in his mid forties is a concept flirting with a necessity. "We got our share of lovin' in our past/Although we were all lookin' for someone who'd last," declares the aforementioned lead track, whereupon ensue a whole bunch of songs about Lovin' On The Road, all top-drawer Rhett Miller--funny, hooky, raunchy, unpredictable, bristling with colloquial turns. How self-referential they are I have no idea. What I do know is that they fit right in on a rock album this raucous. And it is my pleasure to report that the last time I saw them live they closed with "Career Opportunities." A