Chalk it up to all those hell-raising anthems they have penned over nearly two decades. Or the fact that their front man, in a don’t-even-think-about-taking-us-seriously move, long ago dubbed himself Eddie Spaghetti.
Whatever the case, let’s just say that the Supersuckers had pretty much established themselves as the band perhaps least likely to grow up in a hurry someday. But darn if the Seattle’s favorite hillbilly punks haven’t done just that in the five years between albums (not counting an EP and live releases).
There are signs of newfound maturity all over their new disc, Get It Together! (Mid-Fi Recordings) This normally would not be surprising for musicians approaching middle age, but the band in question is one whose hallmark has long been decidedly less heartwarming material such as “She’s My Bitch,” “Ron’s Got the Cocaine,” “How to Maximize Your Kill Count” and “Gone Gamblin.’ ”
This time around, there are no real celebrations of rock ‘n’ roll’s well-worn excesses that the band has long embraced, often to an almost cartoonish degree. On the contrary, life these days for the Supersuckers is summed up on the weary lament of “Paid,” which reduces the nomadic lifestyle of a touring band to the flat, matter-of-fact mantra of “I gotta work and I gotta get paid.”
Hitting the road may have become a bit mundane, but things don‘t sound so dull at the home. Much of Get It Together! deals with a nasty breakup — or at least the specter of one — as well as a break with some old habits. On “Anything Else,” Spaghetti sure sounds like a man struggling a bit to reform himself.
“I’ve been thinking about dealing marijuana, or sneaking out to the casino on the sly,” he concedes, before adding, “but I won’t and you can rest assured, yeah, that’s ridiculous and it’s absurd.”
On “She Is Leaving,” Spaghetti sings of wanting to “change my ways before I die.” And the soul-baring, acoustic twang of “Breaking Honey’s Heart” finds him downright ashamed for having mistreated the missus. Then there’s “Sunset on a Sunday,” a stab at full-on power pop, featuring a cutesy-poo chorus that just might make the most ardent Supersuckers supporter consider retiring the heavy-metal/devil-horns gesture for good.
Fans of the band’s rawer, rougher side will be happy to know that, lyrical shifts aside, these guys still largely sound like their old selves, with the tuneful twin guitars of Ron Heathman and Dan “Thunder” Bolton reliably wailing away. The bar-room hip-shaker “Listen Up,” and the “good clean boogie” described therein, make for a dose of vintage Supersuckers, while “When I Go, I’m Gone” flashes some of the old spunk, with lyrics like “When I bite the dust, please don’t make a fuss.”
The hard-charging “Come Along for the Ride” closes the disc, with a declaration that “it’s time for a brand-new high.”In the context of this album, even that sounds like one more sobering thought.
— By George Henn