Album Review

Thomas Anderson - Norman, Oklahoma

Thomas Anderson - Norman, Oklahoma

Thomas Anderson was born to rhyme "Oklahoma" with "coma," as he does on this album's title track, an autobiographical manifesto that roars out of the garageband gate with the crazed intensity of 13th Floor Elevators crossed with Max Frost & the Troopers ("Wild In The Streets"). With a journalistic eye, a literary brain and a rock n roll heart, the native Okie (transplanted to Austin) takes the musical measure of his collegiate hometown, illuminating the soul of a soul-deadening city in a manner that runs the gamut from scathingly ironic to oddly redemptive. Much of this consistently compelling song-cycle finds Anderson giving voice to characters resigned to stay in a place the songwriter couldn t wait to leave. From the ominous dirge of "Outside Town" to the pep-rally bravado of "Footbal Will Save Our Town" to the hardcore yuppie trash of "We Are Tomorrow" to the sweet country kiss-off of "Your Little World", he surveys his city with a keen intelligence laced with traces of bittersweet affection. While he isn t above the occasional cheap shot at obvious targets ("Let s go to the mall" from the serenely oblivious "Turn A Blind Eye"), Anderson s tone generally tends more toward oblique empathy than satirical broadside. Yet he subverts the adage many of us heard from our mothers - "If you can t say anything good, don t say anything at all" - into, "If you can t say anything good, why not leave?" He casts himself as rock s last true believer in a city of infidels, those who have betrayed the music s tranformational promise for lives as empty as their parent s.