Old 97′s, Wreck Your Life

Andrew Mueller

By Andrew Mueller

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
An alt.country essential.

Old 97s 'second album, released in 1995, showcases all the virtues that would underpin a riotously entertaining career: the Dallas quartet bear a deceptively deep reverence for the rudiments of country (their collective hat is tipped to Bill Monroe on a cover of "My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin'"), an unerring ear for the immovable hook ("Victoria" and "The Other Shoe" are just two of the less resistible choruses) and a rarely equaled flair for deadpan lyrical reflection. "W-I-F-E" manages to elicit as much sympathy as an alcoholic philanderer is ever likely to attract, and "Big Brown Eyes" is an unimprovable study in self-medicated self-pity: "A box of red, and a pill or three/ And I'm calling time and temperature just for some company." Later Old 97s 'albums are perhaps more polished, but the rugged charms of Wreck Your Life keep it well regarded among the band's notably rabid fans.