A bucket of bleach couldn’t burn the blue out of the collars of The Bottle Rockets. Workingman’s rock and roll at its best, the Midwestern collective has espoused the complexities of normal, everyday lives for over 15 years now.
Lean Forward varies little from The Bottle Rockets tried but true recipe. There is absolutely no pretense in these everyday themes, the diction burns more brightly than its plain delivery, and the barbed-wire rockers are energized and accessible. The quartet succeeds in the pained reverence of “The Kid Next Door” and the tangible sentiments of “Give Me Room,” but still struggles to avoid the doldrums. “Nothing But a Driver” and “Hard Times” tell it like it is, espousing hope in trying times, but the oversimplification is trite, dulling the edges of the band’s broken-glass approach.
The Bottle Rockets have been on the rebound lately, releasing album after album acclaimed as the best of the quartet’s career. The band continues its magic with Lean Forward, albeit with varying degrees of success. This release definitely doesn’t hurt The Bottle Rockets momentum, but it doesn’t accelerate the pace.
Lean Forward is out now on Bloodshot Records.