From the first throbbing, grubby guitar riff of "Springfield, IL", it's clear Slobberbone has come to rock. Slippage hints at the Denton, Texas, band's cowpunk past, but it's a record weaned on the big, ugly sounds of Neil Young and Minneapolis punk.
Frontman Brent Best has plenty of attitude, delivering his lyrics in a rasp like Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, especially in the way he's got more words in his mouth than he can spit out at once. Guitarist Jess Barr drives the whole thing along with leads that rip and snarl out of the din.
"Write Me Off" is about the guy too chicken to dump his girl but enough of a weasel to provoke her: "I tried my best to give you my worst....What do I got to do to help you write me off?" On "Sweetness, That's Your Cue", where Best's harmonica gives the song some extra gas, he again plays the heel: "What's that smell you ask, I think I know/It's the smoldering of expectations long let go." The disc's country moment is "Back", a dobro-decorated acoustic pledge to going home, to redemption, and to proving people wrong.
The lone cover -- the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" -- is the album's best track, a should-be hit. As Best sings "Every breath I breathe, I take for you/But what good will breathing do if I can't have you?", you want to suffocate with him. What a way to go.