Fans of the band Old 97's may feel a little old knowing that the band's been making music for 20 years now, but that hasn't slowed Old 97s down at all.  Most Messed Up is a high-energy blast of their country-rock sound filled with joy, regret, booze, pills, profanity, and wry humor -- and it's their best album since Too Far to Care.

Most Messed Up opens with "Longer Than You've Been Alive," a rambling look at the band's history ("most of our shows have been triumphs of rock/although some night I might have been checking the clock").  From there it's on to the women who got away ("Give It Time," "Guadalahara"), the women who stayed ("Wheels Off") and the mix of women and booze ("Let's Get Drunk and Get It On," "Wasted").  There are songs about our common experiences ("This Is the Ballad") and the title track and album closer, "Most Messed Up," a curse-filled bad-boy track which proudly and drunkenly proclaims "I'm so far gone, I can't ever get down/I am the most messed up motherfucker in this town."

Most Messed Up skips any slow or sentimental songs, going always for volume and bar songs instead.  Rhett Miller's almost-breaking voice fits these tunes perfectly, whether sounding joyful or on the edge of passing about.  The band's twanging guitar and bass all work well together, and the results are a great almost-mess of life in bars and with the wrong women and the right booze.  Most Messed Up is a terrific album, back to the basics of what made Old 97's such a great sound from the start.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: