Drive-By Truckers Decoration Day

[New West; 2003]

Styles: indie rock, alt-country
Others: Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Blood Oranges

I’ve just recently opened myself back up to country music. It was the imposed soundtrack of my childhood, and by twelve I’d had enough of both the genre and of my dad. Over the last several years, though, the veneer had begun to crack as albums by Papa M and The Silver Jews have found their way into my collection. Then, with the release of Magnolia Electric Co. earlier this year, I admitted defeat and let the floodgates fly open. In came the Drive-by Truckers.

Decoration Day succeeds because it’s simultaneously absurd and heartfelt, and it manages these contradictions with a certain level of charm. On the surface these songs feel like parodies: Lyrics that feature greedy bankers, and incestuous marriages seem as though they couldn’t be delivered without a smirk. And yet the album conveys a world-weariness that feels believable and deeply reflective. In the end, I don’t care if the stories boarder on ridiculous or cliché, because the way they’re presented here feels earnest. In fact, it’s this contrast that makes repeat listening so enjoyable.

Musically, it’s a progression from their last release, the acclaimed double album The Southern Rock Opera. While their intentions were admirable, undertaking a massive two-disc concept album seemed to limit the band. This time around they’ve loosened up, letting the qualities of each individual track dictate the album’s flow, and broadening their musical scope. The result is simply a more diverse and emotional record.

I know what you’re thinking: This is all fine and well, but nothing you could say will make me like Cock Rock. Believe me, I felt the same way, but this is an album with potential to change your mind.

1. The Deeper In
2. Sink Hole
3. Hell No, I Ain't Happy
4. Marry Me
5. My Sweet Annette
6. Outfit
7. Heathens
8. Sounds Better in the Song
9. (Something's Got to) Give Pretty Soon
10. Your Daddy Hates Me
11. Careless
12. When the Pin Hits the Shell
13. Do It Yourself
14. Decoration Day
15. Loaded Gun in the Closet