Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-11-11

2011-11-11

Miranda Lambert: Four the Record (RCA, 2011) Lambert's not in it for another "Kerosene," not with the Pistol Annies ready whenever she feels like a joy ride. She's in it for another "The House That Built Me"--a heartsong that lets housewives-they-wish forget their day jobs for the length of a bathroom break. She's too brand-savvy to lead with the soft stuff: "All Kinds of Kinds" stars a cross-dressing congressman, "Fine Tune" links Auto-Tune to sexual excitation, and the Angeleena Presley-assisted "Fastest Girl in Town" ends with Miranda abandoning her man for the cop who caught them speeding. But this does wind down into your basic quality country album. Corn is fine with me--the two-sided "Safe," say. "Dear Diamond," "Oklahoma Sky," the oh-so-soulful Blake collab "Better in the Long Run"--they're cornball. A-

Pistol Annies: Hell on Heels (Columbia, 2011) Slight, bright, and perfect--Ramones for bad girls, country edition. The ringleader is Miranda Lambert in "Gunpowder & Lead" mode, but they're definitely a trio--Ashley Monroe has a co-write on seven of Lambert's eight songs and Angaleena Presley's "Lemon Drop" is the catchiest of all even if she stole it from John Prine, as is her damn right. After the gold-digging title track, they're poorer than punks even on "Takin' Pills," a road song about three bad girls making their career move. Chirping their expertly executed tunes, scorning the guitar swagger good old boys think makes them so sexy, they're a pop cartoon worth more than gold. Dig? A

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