Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

X: Alphabetland [Fat Possum, 2020]
With Exene a conspiracy theorist, John Doe anonymous, Billy Zoom a "conservative," and D.J. Bonebrake a drummer, who would have guessed that a band that made its last good album in 1983 would add a mature classic to those doomed remnants of a tumultuous marriage on an L.A. punk scene more minimalist and extreme than they were. Yet here it is, one rueful to agonized lookback at their own mortality after another. My favorite of many excellent lyrics begins: "The divine that defines us/The evil that divides us/There's a heaven and a hell/And then there's oh well." But the verbiage wouldn't mean as much if John and Exene weren't caterwauling as wild and gifted as ever--and if Zoom and Bonebrake weren't so committed and undiminished. A-