The Bottle Rockets return with their first studio LP since 2009, and it’s yet another terrific gumbo of power-pop, burly rock, and alt-country – a collection of mostly sub-three-minute gems featuring lyrics liable to leave listeners grinning like mules.
The closer “Shape Of A Wheel” (“I’m a wheel no matter what shape I’m in”) offers particularly good examples of frontman Brian Henneman’s well-known talents for wordplay, but the whole album abounds with songcraft.
Opener “Monday (Every Time I Turn Around)” is a jangly ode to time’s swift passage, while “Big Fat Nuthin” (“My idea of recreation/Is brain-dead flat-line vegetation”) merges a singalong chorus with workaday drudgery. “XOYOU” is pure-pop bliss of the Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds ilk, while “Dog” (“I love my dog… sometimes it’s just this simple”), a toss-off in lesser hands, manages to be bouncy and moving at the same time.
Reenlisting their longtime producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Joan Jett, the Del-Lords), the BRox took several months to record in their hometown of St. Louis (a first). This is certainly well-crafted as a result, but it lacks none of the immediacy or charm that have helped the Bottle Rockets retain inveterate fans and attract new ones for 24 years.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s February ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.