Music Reviews
Lucero

Lucero

Should’ve Learned by Now

Thirty Tigers

If you start a record with a song titled “One Last F.U.,” there’s a chance you’ll either attract a slew of new fans or have the uninitiated feeling as if they walked into a bar fight.

“Wait, who the F is he talking to?”

That’s the risk Lucero can take, having a solid fan base. Lucero fans talk to their friends about Lucero. Lucero fans lap up new music like thirsty porch dogs. Lucero can say “F.U.” and still sound downright friendly about it. Trust me. I was born in the Mississippi Delta. This is what we do.

Should’ve Learned by Now is the twelfth release from Memphis-based Lucero, whose alt-rock comfort zones are never really that comfortable. This is a good thing. If I was completely new to Ben Nichols’ gravelly voice, I’d swear that it was Guy Fieri on lead vocals, tossing back a pulled-pork greasy spoon masterpiece in-between tracks. Maybe these road dogs will meet up somewhere and compare notes.

After the first cowbell-injected rocker of a “leave me alone” anthem, we get more sonically familiar with “Macon If We Make It,” a song that was born from a severe weather situation on the road. Those who know or even tour the Southeast will find this not only believable, but normal. Hurricanes or tornadoes are the inherent risks. I’m pretty sure they made it to Macon. The single is getting healthy airplay everywhere I listen.

The album is a refreshing departure from some past releases that felt more ominous in both sound and lyrics. When I reviewed the first single, “Buy a Little Time,” in December for Ink 19, I was encouraged by the promise of a more upbeat record, which Lucero delivered.

My melody-loving ears are partial to “She Leads Me,” where the solid dirty south rhythm meets a classic country sway. “At The Show” brings the same sweet optimism from the point of view of the troubadour. It took a while to grow on me, but the authenticity scored points. The country sway is gone, but there is a dirt-floor simplicity to it.

“Raining for Weeks” has a lovely intro on keys and another more introspective vibe. Just like the normalcy of hurricanes and tornadoes, rain is a gorgeous image and metaphor for Nichols’ exploration of the denial of a partner’s sadness.

Rounding out with “Should’ve Learned by Now,” we’re back to the alt-country, percussion-heavy, and very listenable signature sound of Lucero. “Drunken Moon” is a slow dance that feels more like “She Leads Me” as a waltz.

“Time to Go Home” is an excellent wrap to the album. It’s a lyrical illustration of the “we know we’re all fuckups” that Nichols was referring to when we were told the album was coming.

I appreciate every track for the ability to just hang out with Nichols’ writing as this strong band defies the storm warnings and continues to deliver great material to us — live or on the turntable. My favorites are the tracks with less distraction and cowbell infusions, but Lucero does Lucero here. They’ve earned the right.

I’d pair this with a good greasy spoon barbecue sandwich and a cold one. That’s how it’s done.


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