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The Old 97’s “Most Messed Up” Reviewed

Most Most Most Messed Up

Most Most Most Messed Up

The Old 97’s have always been a bit of a conundrum to me. On paper, they should be a band that I love – energetic, smart roots rockers with songwriting chops to spare. Unfortunately, I’ve never felt a connection to them. Too many times their rockers failed to ignite and their sound got stuck in a one-dimensional rut. I never actively disliked them – you can’t deny work as good as “Question” or “Oppenheimer” or “Timebomb” – but I’ve always felt they were somewhat overrated. Seeing them perform live twice did not make me a convert.

Nothing in their catalogue prepared me in any way for how exciting “Most Messed Up” is. This album is Old 97’s unchained; they rock with an almost violent sense of urgency. Imagine The Replacements as an alt country band led by American Shane MacGowan, spitting out obscenities and witticisms so quickly the listener can barely keep up. The lead track, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” is a career overview filled with alcohol, pills, and appreciation for the gig. “Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On,” featuring Tommy Stinson on bass, will become a full-throated concert anthem. “This is the Ballad” is a hard-edged waltz time number that celebrates rye whiskey. On “Nashville,” Rhett documents the life of a Tennessee misfit while the band clicks in their cowpunk glory sweet spot. “Intervention” makes a chaotic plea for substance abuse treatment sound like the best party in town.

In short, my friends, this is an absolutely fantastic rock ‘n’ roll album – the kind that doesn’t come down the pike too often anymore. “More Messed Up” is rambunctious and sloppy and chaotic and hysterical with songs that you can both sing with and scream along to. If you’ve forgotten how thrilling traditional rock ‘n’ roll can be, this is one hell of a reminder. Play it loud. Knock back a few shots. Piss off your uptight neighbors.

Grade – A+

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