PHW Album of the Month - 1/08

The latest release from the Drive-By Truckers is PHW's Album of the Month for January. Brighter Than Creation's Dark is a dense, exhausting, complicated, diverse collection of songs (holy crow - 19 of ‘em totaling 75 minutes!) that play as the Truckers’ most eclectic release yet. Their passionate, fiery brand of literate Southern Rock is on full display on a trio of prime Mike Cooley rockers (“3 Dimes Down”, “Self Destructive Zones”, and “A Ghost To Most”) as well as a bunch of Patterson Hood contributions (“The Righteous Path” and “The Man I Shot” especially). Beyond those songs DBT dive head first into folk-rock, blues, soul, dub (just kidding), and classic country.

It’s not their best album (have to go with Decoration Day there), but it comes closer than you’d think after the disappointing A Blessing And A Curse. The best review I’ve seen is actually the one from Pitchfork - which focuses on the dual nature of Hood and Cooley’s songwriting, the former with a growing sense of home and family values, the latter still churning out tales of outlaws, alcohol, and loose women. They go back and forth over the album, Hood's values winning over Cooley's debauchery only because he writes more songs. Bassist Shonna Tucker contributes lead vocals for the first time on a DBT record, and on "I'm Sorry Huston" and "The Purgatory Line" sounds like she belongs with the boys.

Most negative reviewers have focused on the album's length - the damn thing takes an hour and 15 minutes to listen to (like I said, exhausting). But that is missing the point - DBT records have always been exercises in excess. Sure, the album would seem a lot tighter without stray tracks like the awkward “Home Field Advantage”, “Lisa’s Birthday”, and “You And Your Crystal Meth” (and maybe 1 or 2 others), but with this band you learn to take the mediocre with the stellar. And on Brighter Than Creation’s Dark there are more than enough incredible songs to fill a great album.

MP3 :: Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife
MP3 :: A Ghost To Most
(from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. Buy here)

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