Lucero 1372 Overton Park(Universal Records/Republic Records) Buy it from Insound
It’s easy to get lost in all the Americana when you spend some time with Lucero. Steeped in it so they are, you would sometimes want to focus solely on all the Springsteen aping and Southern Rock sensibility. And you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. Though, as their major label debut 1372 Overton Park seems to suggest, that may be missing the point.
Lucero--while certainly somewhat slaves to their influences--have spent the last decade or so carving a niche for themselves out of working class malaise matched with prideful indiscretion. It’s not that they’ve been paying homage, though, so much as paying their dues. 1372 Overton Park seemingly aims to bring to light a more lucid version of their personality traits, while illuminating further upon their most cherished ethos.
“So what if all my heroes are the losing kind?” asks Ben Nichols on the album's second track “What Are You Willing To Lose,” perfectly setting the tone for the barroom musings and half-hearted regrets of a street light poet on the brink that are about to follow. Nichols delivery, as always, is as compelling as it is slightly off-putting and oafish. It’s a mixture that provides countless mileage to his persona. Accompanying him in the key of E-Street and Skynrd, Lucero et al provide a slightly sinister blend of Southern Rock with a punk sensibility that calls to mind a more genuine semblance of jaded grace.
Tracks like Can’t Feel A Thing, and Darken My Door provide a bittersweet atmosphere at times, but for the most part 1372 Overton Park is rightfully relentless in its general get-up-and-go aesthetic. A virtual sonic onslaught, if it’s not hooking you with its endlessly expert riffing, then the horn and piano sections are surprising you with their deft relevance to the album’s overall tonal complexity.
Exploring their Country leanings in just as similar portions as past releases, Lucero inject an underlying atmospheric dissonance that seems completely purposeful in the context of the LP. There’s an uneasiness in its construction that elevates the album’s more subversive qualities. This isn’t meant to be their masterpiece; it’s meant to be their classic.
Mostly coarse and rugged, 1372 Overton Park also employs a scintillating aura that can be a bit jarring if not for the skilled hands guiding you through the albums dodgy twists and turns. Ultimately, a surprisingly successful mood piece, there’s a lot of fat to cut through--but this actually becomes one of the album’s more winning attributes. Spot the Born To Run reference this is not.
A mature and shockingly complex statement, if 1372 Overton Park isn’t Lucero’s most accomplished album to date, it certainly is their most captivating. Finding a halfway point between authentic Americana and blatant misanthropy, Lucero create a wealth of generational and cultural relevance through sheer force of will, wisdom and fierce poetry. It’s something far more authentic than which they have ever been given credit.25 January, 2010 - 18:52 — Daniel Rivera