It’s hard to believe the Supersuckers have been going for 20 years now, although hearing the smoothed edges of their first new album in half a decade makes it easier. Once one of the most raucous rockabilly bands around, the boys have mellowed somewhat with age, spooning out easy-to-swallow tunes that are often more alt-country or power pop than balls-out rawk. Singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti tries to reclaim the band’s wise-ass roots with “I’m a Fucking Genius,” but it’s too short, self-conscious and clean-sounding to really do the trick.
On the other hand, “Paid” is a rollicking return to form, partly because it ramps up the role of guitarists Ron “Rontrose” Heathman and Dan “Thunder” Bolton and newfound drummer Scott Churilla, formerly of fellow Sub Pop alums Reverend Horton Heat. It closes with a resounding thump and helps propel the rest of the album. Not surprisingly, Spaghetti treats life and death with his usual sarcastic touch on “When I Go, I’m Gone” and rejoices in getting high on the fiery and fun “I Like It All, Man,” another gem with a rattling finish. “Listen Up” also has a convincing barroom swagger and shout, with well-placed stabs of distortion.
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“She Is Leaving” sounds too much like radio-ready pap, though, relying on easy one-syllable rhyming and the universal mechanics of romance. The opening “What It Takes” suffers the same clichéd fate, veering more toward shortcut simplicity than beefy brawn. Still, it’s cool to hear new material from the Supersuckers in late 2008. Not only that, this self-released album includes a feature-length DVD with footage from a Southern California show last year. The material indicates the band should be as ragged as ever touring behind Get It Together.