Lucero’s twelfth album opens with drummer Roy Berry banging a cowbell, as if this Memphis band is about to launch into an up-tempo “Honkytonk Women” or perhaps a slower “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Even before Ben Nichols starts singing about a chatty drunk ruining his whiskey, you know exactly where you are: you’re back at the bar. It’s the band’s natural environment, and at a time when bar bands are an endangered breed, it’s nice to find them holding a stool on opening track “One More FU.” Lucero sounds blunt, up for a fight: “It wasn’t like I came here thinking, ‘Man, this bar is great to drink,'” Nichols declares before telling himself, “It’s just another ‘fuck you,’ that’s it. and i’m gone. It’s some of his snappier lyrics, but he knows he’s kidding himself. He’s out for a few more rounds, a few more FU, and nine more songs.
After a handful of albums that prioritized southern gothic atmosphere over southern rock riffs, Lucero is back where she started. They’ve been playing bar stool blues and ballads for 25 years, cutting their teeth in the same places they sing and surviving even when most bars have replaced rock bands with jukeboxes or worse, DJs. While Nichols still insists on referring to the women in his songs as “little girls,” there’s something impressive, even endearing, about their longevity. Like Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers, two other unkillable bands associated with the 2000s bar-rock trend, Lucero is still making solid albums that expand their catalogs in unexpected ways. Street dogs can learn new tricks, just like the Moogs and grumpiness of 2018. among the ghosts and 2021 when you found me demonstrated.
Despite the suggestion of self-criticism in its title, I should have learned by now There is nothing quite as dramatic as a comeback or return to form. Instead, they continue to sharpen old ideas and update familiar themes. This is an album about drinking and the many reasons you do it: to celebrate and commiserate, to numb yourself or find perspective, to break your heart or someone else’s. Lucero will even raise a glass to bad weather: The frenetic “Macon If We Make It” is about waiting out a hurricane at some Florida watering hole while hoping you can get far enough inland before the worst hits. “At the Show,” on the other hand, captures the relatively innocent excitement of playing your first concerts in a place you’re barely old enough to frequent. It’s just sweet instead of bittersweet, as Nichols sings about catching a guy’s attention. young woman in the crowd and the band conveys the excitement of youthful self-expression.