The title of Dereconstructed, Lee Bains’s second album and first for Sub Pop, is astutely chosen, at a number of levels. The former Dexateens guitarist and his new(ish) group trade in an unmistakable and unapologetic strain of old-school beards-and-bourbon Southern rock, evocative of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, et al ¬ although leavened in parts with a wry, wordy sensibility borrowed from such California-based ’80s cowpunkers as Green On Red. And lyrically, Alabama native Bains is preoccupied with the ongoing process of the South’s reconstruction, and the equally enduring argument of what that would look like anyway.
In this respect, the most obvious reference point for what Bains is attempting is Drive-By Truckers (for whom another Dexateens’ alumnus, Matt Patton, recently assumed bass duties). Bains shares DBTs’s ambiguous, tormented passion for the South’s history and mythology, at once defiantly proud and apologetically horrified. Titles like “We Dare Defend Our Rights!” — also known as Alabama’s state motto —¬ and “Flags” invite the listener to brace for a ferocious flapping of the stars and bars, only to deliver the opposite: The former song turns out to be a furious elegy for victims of racist violence, religious bigotry and police harassment, the latter a statement of incomprehension at nationalist chauvinism, as signified by a banner that once flew “over the smacking lips and cracking whips of white men selling black men.”
None of which should be read as indication that Dereconstructed is any sort of lecture. The Glory Fires are abundantly worthy heirs to the rock ‘n’ roll heritage of their home state. But the Glory Fires are neither throwbacks to, nor curators of, something now bygone: This is an angry record about right now, and it sounds accordingly vital.