Album review | ALT-COUNTRY

Old 97s, ‘Most Messed Up’

“Rock ’n’ roll’s been very, very good to me,” observes Rhett Miller on “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” the retrospective lead-off track to the new Old 97s album that surveys the band’s quarter-century of existence (“20 good years of about 25,” quips Miller) in a sprawling six minutes. But lest anyone think that Miller and company have gone nostalgic or Americana, the ensuing 11 tracks put that notion to rest. “Most Messed Up” is a full-blown, album-length expression of the Old 97s’ vintage, railroad-beat careen stripped of all embellishments, with Miller singing about substances (“The Disconnect”), substance-fueled hookups (“Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On”), substance abuse (“Intervention”) — and affirming the band life. “I’m gonna play my guitar till my fingers fall off, sing till my voice is gone/they might think I wasted my life they’re wrong,” Miller asserts at one point. At those moments, “Most Messed Up” sounds as much like a call to arms as taking stock. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Intervention“

Old 97s play the Sinclair on June 2.

Stuart Munro can be reached at
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