Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

The Believer
Verve Forecast

Lapsed alt-country frontman's second solo shot shows off his skills, but not quite his brilliance

Since 1995, with the Old 97's and now on two solo albums, Rhett Miller has been an exceptionally tuneful, clear, simple and poetic songwriter. He has a pro's knack, half Nashville and half Broadway, for turning ordinary English a few degrees till it reflects the light: "Sex in wartime is sweeter than peace," or "I have every confidence that she'll dismantle mine." Unfortunately, that second example is borrowed from sideman Jon Brion, one more sign that the inspired pitch of the Old 97's' 1999 Fight Songs and 2001 Satellite Rides has slackened slightly. This does improve on their 2004 Drag It Up. But there's a little too much goop here, much of it front-loaded, as if Miller is convinced that nowadays the canniest pros soft-pedal their smarts.

Blender, Mar. 2006