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Classic Album Review: Concrete Blonde | Group Therapy

Johnette Napolitano and co. act their age on this compelling comeback album.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Reunion albums tend to be nostalgic affairs that are more about recapturing past glories — and past paydays — than expressing artistic growth. Full marks, then, to L.A. post-punks Concrete Blonde for moving forward even as they look over their shoulders on their compelling comeback album.

The first disc in eight years from singer-bassist Johnette Napolitano, guitarist Jim Mankey and drummer Harry Rushakoff, Group Therapy takes a mature, mellow approach that fits with its participants’ middle-age station. From the wistful Sunset Strip ode Roxy to the no-regrets waltz When I Was a Fool (“I know you liked me better then”), most of these confessional tunes are about growing up, growing old and, hopefully, growing into a better soul. Musically, Concrete Blonde have grown into a different band — unlike their adrenalinized sound of old, they tackle these songs with the restraint, skill and dignity that come with experience. No, there’s nothing here to match God is a Bullet or Still in Hollywood. But I still like Group Therapy, if only because it’s nice to hear rockers acting older than their shoe size.