Cracker – [Album]

Saturday, 06 June 2009

It's been sixteen years since Cracker's sophomore album, Kerosene Hat, and its hit single, “Low,” catapulted the band to rock superstardom for an exceedingly long blink of an eye. If ever a tune came along at precisely the right time, it was “Low” – with weepy, tone deaf and whiny vocals and a noir country guitar arsenal at its disposal, “Low” fit very neatly in between the monster hits of Weezer, Danzig, Lenny Kravitz and Nirvana on the play lists of rural radio stations still trying to “get the hang of this alternative rock thing” (these were usually the stations with programmers asking, “Alternative to what?”) and riding the coattails of the Meat Puppets to a brief heyday. It worked for fifteen minutes but, after their time was up, Cracker dutifully vanished; written off like the one-hit wonders they were.

Cracker's stock in and grip on rock airwaves evaporated – there's no debating that – but they didn't die.

Cracker's tenth studio album (who knew?), Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, finds the band in not quite so melodramatic a place as “Low” was, but not terribly far off. Now playing a little more like a bargain basement Kyuss rather than Meat Puppets knock-offs, Cracker continues to bludgeon out fairly ironic and sarcastic chicken-fried alt-rock with roughly the same results they've experienced since 1996's The Golden Age but also with a slightly more plain-faced “we're so much smarter than you” attitude that is good for a couple of laughs but doesn't make a lasting impression. The problem is (as it always has been), if the whole thing is supposed to be a joke, Cracker never exactly lets listeners in on it; while bands of a similar vintage like Local H have managed moments of great (if woefully underrated) song-craft since their pop spotlight faded by continuing to follow their muses un-apologetically and with little consideration for who or how many might be behind them to see, songs like “Show Me How This Thing Works,” “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me” and “Hand Me My Inhaler” all seem to pause at regular intervals to glance back and see how many people think they're clever. Those tracks are countered with weak-but-novel fare like “Friends” (which could fit right into a Kinky Friedman album), “I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right” (where the band medicates “Low”) and “Hey Bret (You Know What Time It Is)” that all drag Urge Overkill's sense of sardonic cool out to the desert for a session but are only just static enough to not sink the album; they don't even come close to redeeming it and, no matter which side of the coin the band plays, it doesn't matter because it's all just a little too contrived to get behind. Only “Darling One” really gains any ground because it's the only four minutes on the album where Cracker just plays and doesn't seem to care how the look while they do it.

Now ten albums in, it's a safe assumption that, without a few more angels on their shoulders, there will never be any redemption for Cracker. There certainly isn't any here – the songs just aren't that good and the performances of them are just too vain. Even so though, you have to respect Cracker; they keep trying no matter how hopeless it looks for them.


Cracker official homepage

Cracker myspace


“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me” from Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey.


Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey
is out now and available on Amazon .

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