WHO ARE THEY? The hard-hitting, shape-shifting southern alt-rock vets fronted by singer-guitarist Kevn Kinney.
WHAT IS THIS? The 34-year-old band’s breathtakingly powerful and devastatingly thought-provoking ninth studio album — which just so happens to be their first full-length since 2009’s The Great American Bubble Factory (which was followed by a series of EPs).
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Their biggest, fullest creation in decades — if not their entire career — thanks in no small part to producer (and singer-songwriter) Aaron Lee Tasjan. He expands and bolsters Kinney’s politically charged lyrics and pointed vocals with multiple layers of jangling paisley guitars and psychedelic keyboards when it’s called for — and strips things down to the bare bones when it isn’t.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Kickin Ass N Takin Names.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While drinking bourbon, smoking unfiltered cigarettes and debating politics with the bikers down at your favourite watering hole.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Confrontational, uncompromising, explosive, potent, passionate, opinionated, honest, earthy, eclectic, textured.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Pretty much all of them — starting with the epic opener (and politically charged eye-opener) Free Ain’t Free, which slowly builds from a gentle southern-rock strum to a full-on punk assault. After that, things are basically divided between brawny, flat-out rockers (Spies, If I’m Not There I’ll Be Here) and swampier fare (I Used to Live Here, What’s Wrong With Being Happy), along with the gorgeous Ian McLagan, a tribute to rock lifers like the late Faces keyboardist.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘They have eight other albums? Where can I get them?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? If this album doesn’t become a big part of your personal soundtrack for the foreseeable future, we are never going to be friends.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A TV SHOW, WHAT KIND OF SHOW WOULD IT BE? A long-running drama that you haven’t watched for years — but fall in love with all over again after you realize it’s still on the air and just as great as ever.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? If free ain’t free, this shouldn’t be either.